Kevin Durant will return to Oklahoma City this Saturday for the first time as an opposing player when the Golden State Warriors take on Thunder. While the game will serve as an opportunity for the casual fan to see two exciting teams from the Western Conference compete against each other, it’s also the second of at least four chances to see former teammates Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head this season.
A lot has been made of the relationship between Durant and Westbrook since they parted ways. Following the first game between the Thunder and the Warriors this season, Durant downplayed the controversy between them while Westbrook had a different tory, telling the media that they still aren’t on speaking terms. This was after Westbrook seemingly trolled Durant’s love for photography by wearing a photographer’s jacket to the game, in addition to some veiled shade being thrown at Durant on Instagram in the offseason.
As far as Durant is concerned, much of the so-called beef between him and Westbrook has been built up by the media. In an interview with ESPN’s Marc Stein, Durant talked about how easily the media can twist up their words to “make a feud between us.”
“Early on in the season, I was doing an interview with someone and I used the word ‘unselfish’ to describe my teammates here,” Durant told ESPN. “Someone asked Russell if he heard what I said about being unselfish, and he phrased the question as if I was saying the Thunder and their organization and the team was selfish. Once I heard that I was like, ‘They’re trying to get in between this thing and make it bigger than what it is.'”
For what it’s worth, Westbrook has also downplayed the tension between him and Durant in the past. It’s just, when you combine Westbrook’s competitiveness with, say, this Jordan commercial, it’s hard to buy the idea that there aren’t at least some hard feelings between the two.
In his Rolling Stone cover story last October, Durant claimed the duo simply had a working relationship when they played together. That was it.
“We had our own cliques that we hung with on the road. Russell had his guys, I had mine. It was never a bad thing. Just how it was.”
With the Warriors currently sitting four games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference, and the Thunder resting their playoff hopes largely on whether or not Westbrook can keep up his scoring tear he’s been on this season (the team is currently in the seventh spot, seven games ahead of the Denver Nuggets), there’s a good chance that if there’s not tension between the two like Durant says, these next few games and a possible meeting in the playoffs, could create it.