Once brothers, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are now, for all intents and purposes, rivals. Durant's decision to break up the band and head to the Golden State Warriors made that happen. But despite the teammate aspect of their relationship ending, the two are, at least according to Durant, "cool." However according to Westbrook, he still hasn't spoken to Durant, which doesn't really sound like a "cool" relationship.
So what gives?
Well according to Kendrick Perkins, this veiled non-communication is nothing new in the Westbrook and Durant dynamic. Talking about the duo on The Vertical Podcast with Woj, Perkins weighed in on the Durant and Westbrook relationship and expressed his own thoughts about the two (transcribed by The Oklahoman's Brett Dawson):
On the Westbrook/Durant dynamic:
"I think to me, what happened was with Russ and KD, I think they never really valued each other like that should have. And not saying that they didn't value as, like, didn't like each other. What I'm talking about is, I don't think they ever realized and said, hey - I don't think Russ ever realized and said, 'Hey, man, I got Kevin Durant on my side. We could take over this league.' And I never thought KD did vice versa. He never said, 'Hey, I got Russell Westbrook on my side.' You got two of the top five players in the NBA on the same team. And I just think that they never valued each other, and trust me - I'm telling you this right now - when they think about this 10 years later, they're gonna regret that. They're gonna regret that they didn't value each other the way that they should have. And I'm talking about both of them. And I ain't saying they didn't like each other, because it wasn't none of that. I mean, we all played cards, they laughed and joked, we all had conversation. We had a group text going about Redskin and Cowboys football, because it was all good.
"I think what it was was this. Let me correct that. I think what it was was this. Russ actually did value KD as being the player that he is. But what I had to explain - and I explained it to KD - is that what you have to understand about Russ is that Russ, at the time, he wasn't getting the credit of being on the same level as KD, but he had the potential. The whole thing was is that, I thought out of all that, it never really came down to those two guys that got in the way of each other. It always was the outside that got in the way of both of them...
"It was always the outside. It was always a controversy of whose team it was. Why it just can't be both of y'all's team? How about Russ goes for 50 one night, you go for 60 the next night?"
This is some great and nuanced perspective from Perkins, who played for several years with Durant and Westbrook. Perkins was a strong presence in the locker room in Oklahoma City so he likely provided a voice of reason on more than one occasion to Westbrook and Durant.
Perkins has a point too about "the outside." While surely Durant and Westbrook tried to ignore it, the outside chatter from the media and fans may have contributed to some cracks in their relationship. Hearing so many people speak negatively about your game and how it relates to your teammate has to be tiresome.
But overall, based on Perkins' comments, it seems like the respect between Durant and Westbrook was not always there. They clearly have a ton of respect for and believed in each other. Yet the level of respect wasn't always at 100 percent.
Was there really anything the two could've done to have changed that? Who knows for sure and now with Durant in Golden State, we will probably never know. Life moves on and now we will have to shift into a time period where Durant and Westbrook are now opponents instead of teammates.