Since the fateful morning of July 4, 2016, when Kevin Durant announced he’d be taking his talents to the Bay Area, rumors have swirled non-stop regarding the apparently strained relationship between Durant and his former comrade Russell Westbrook.
There was always going to be the inevitable narrative that Westbrook felt betrayed, angered and abandoned by the departure of his teammate of eight years, but many went farther than that, claiming that the rift between the two superstars had formed while they were teammates, and at times affected their on the court performance.
There is likely some validity to these reports, and also likely some exaggeration. To set the record straight, Kevin Durant sat down with the San Jose Mercury News on Tuesday, and denounced much of what has been reported regarding a feud between the two, saying that anyone claiming to know about the true nature of their relationship is lying.
“You only see [Russ and I], everybody only see us, on this court at 7 o’clock,” Durant told the newspaper. “So how can you comment anything we have going on relationship-wise? Basketball-wise, you can make your assumptions because it’s out there in front of you. That’s the facts. But you can’t tell me what type of person I was with Russell or what type of person he was with me. They don’t have a clue. They don’t. So how can they say that?
“All that stuff I hear is lies. All that stuff that I’m taking shots at the Thunder or Russell, it’s just there to try to separate us. They did it when we were playing together. They tried to separate us. So obviously, they’re going to do it even more now. C’mon. I don’t have nothing against Russell. As I shouldn’t. And I don’t think he have nothing against me. I don’t think he’s taking shots at me. I don’t think he’s doing anything that everyone is putting out there. It’s for your entertainment, your pleasure, your joy. I see it all the time. They want us to beef because of the game on Thursday. They want more suspense and excitement when they turn the TV on … That’s what they want. But I’m not letting that get between us.”
Durant admitted that while he maybe could’ve communicated better with Westbrook regarding his exit, the two will take care of any lingering issues behind closed doors. He reinforced the fact that he retains no animosity, and only love for the former teammate he calls a ‘brother.’
“That’s something me and him will talk about. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying I did it the right way. I’m owning up to that,” Durant told the Mercury News. “We’re not going to go through this in the media, though. I’m not going to say I should’ve did this, should’ve did that. We’ll figure our differences out as men one-on-one. … We’re going through a tough time right now in our relationship. But we’re brothers at the end of the day.”
Durant stated time and again throughout the pice that a dislike for each other had nothing to do with the two growing apart, but rather situational factors, specifically that Durant is single, grew up without a stable family life, and is still trying to discover who he is, while Westbrook is married has known who he is all along.
“Me and Russell grew up together. I was in the phase of finding out who I was outside of basketball. He already knew who he was. He already had a stable life. He had stable parents, a girlfriend through college. I didn’t have none of that stuff,” Durant told the Mercury News. “I’m trying to find out who I am, which I didn’t know, which is not a bad thing. He knew who he was. So obviously, we’re going to grow [in different directions]. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not at all. We still hung out. We’re boys. My interest went this way, his went that way. He got married, I didn’t. He hung with his wife. What you want me to do? I love Russ. I don’t care what nobody say. I don’t care what he say or what the fans say. Like, this is a tough time right now in our relationship. But I love Russ. I love his family.”
The two will face off for the first time on Thursday, when Oklahoma City visits Golden State for the first of four matchups this season.