Kevin Durant says he has no beef with Russell Westbrook and still loves OKC
Says the Thunder guard is still his 'brother' but that's a two-way street
It's Westbrook vs. Durant week in the NBA. The Thunder travel to Oakland to take on the Warriors on Thursday in the first game Kevin Durant has ever played vs. Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
The two are going to be asked about their relationship, it's just part of it, and it is unavoidable. You can take two approaches. Westbrook has made it clear he doesn't want to answer any more questions on the subject, while Durant did two sit-down interviews this week, both published Tuesday, to discuss his decision to leave OKC and make it clear he has no "beef" with Westbrook.
First, Durant talked to the San Jose Mercury News about his decision to leave, saying he "loves" Westbrook. Durant said the two are "brothers" still, even though he admits they haven't spoken since Durant left him in free agency with nothing but a text message. Durant describes the decision as more about him trying to figure out who he is as an adult, and admits the two grew apart off-court.
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. They all know that. I never did anything morally wrong. I never back-stabbed him in real life, never did anything behind his back, never told anyone anything about his character. Never did any of that. I just left teams. I just switched teams. Everyone on the outside is looking at it as, 'Oh, you must not have liked him.' Hell no. C'mon man. Nobody understand that part. I'm trying to find out who I am. He knew who he was. He knew what he wanted to do. He got married young. He met his girlfriend in college. I didn't have none of that. I didn't have two parents in a home with me. I'm still trying to search and find out who I am. We end up going this way (splits arms again) as far as off-the-court personality wise. And that's not a bad thing."
This is a pretty insightful comment, and Durant deserves credit from everyone outside of OKC -- who have a right to remain hurt -- for being this vulnerable publicly. He comes across in the piece as adamant that there's no "beef" between the two, just as he did with a similar interview with USA Today:
Q: Does it bother you that -- no matter how it got messy -- that everything you two accomplished together falls by the wayside and now the focus is that it's a little beef?
A: "It just shows the way of the world right now. Like, a beef? Bro, I don't beef with nobody. I've seen beefs go the wrong way. We've all seen it. The wrong way - real life wrong way, so you can't say beef around me. I'm not into no basketball beef. Where me or Russ comes from (Seat Pleasant, Md. and Los Angeles, respectively), beef - you don't just throw that word around like that. We have a miscommunication going on between a lot of people, a lot of assumptions - you can say that. But a beef? Nah, there ain't no beef man.
That's great perspective, for Durant to make it clear that "beef" means a hatred that he'll never have. However, there is clearly a conflict between the two, and that's not a one-way street. Just because Durant is fine with Westbrook doesn't mean that Westbrook is fine with Durant. The way Durant left clearly bothered him, and Durant joining the Warriors clearly bothered him.
It should be noted that Durant says in that Mercury News quote that he never told anyone about Westbrook's character. The day after Durant left for the Warriors, Bleacher Report reported a divide between the two led Durant to sign with Golden State. That's obviously not coming from the Thunder side, and it's unlikely that a Warriors source would pass mustard to provide that perspective. It pretty clearly wasn't Durant himself, but it likely was someone from the people that surround him who, it should be noted, reportedly were pushing Durant to go to the Bay.
These things are not complicated and we're never going to get the full story or "truth" because so much of it is based on perspective.
One thing Durant remains adamant about, though, is that he still love OKC and the fans:
"The 405 (Oklahoma City's area code) has a special place in my heart," he said. "Those fans, no matter what they call me or how they feel about me, they know, that if you see me anywhere, that you'll feel like I was your friend. That's how you made me feel, and how I made them feel. Those memories are never going to fade. I feel a certain away about that city, that state, that organization. And I look at that as - I'm going to put (those years) on my trophy case. That eight years is going to go in my trophy case. Not in the trash.I'm onto something new. That's just the way of life sometimes."
That's good of Durant. Maybe it's PR, but it comes across as genuine. Durant loved his time in OKC, but it was time to move on. You can respect that.
And it's good that he says "no matter how they feel about me" because the love is not going to return for Durant any time soon. Eventually? Sure. Time heals all wounds. But it's going to take a lot of time to heal a wound this big.
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