Kevin Durant says he's a Russell Westbrook fan: 'I love watching him play'

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant isn't exactly talking trash ahead of his first game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook on Thursday. In the locker room after a recent win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Durant watched Westbrook highlights with enthusiasm, yelling, "Give it to 'em, then," per ESPN's Chris Haynes. A day after saying he has no beef with Westbrook and still loves Oklahoma City, Durant reiterated that he's not trying to start a rivalry:

"The thing is, I'm not a hater," Durant told ESPN on Wednesday. "Russ is a great basketball player. I love watching him play. I'm a fan of his game. I don't wish bad things on people. That's not what I'm about. I've always supported him and will continue to support him."

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"Of course I'm looking forward to the game. We're competitors," Durant said.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook warming up
The former teammates will play against each other for the first time on Thursday. USATSI

It's clear that these guys aren't best buddies, and they haven't talked since Durant left the Thunder. It's also clear that Durant does not want people to think he left because of Westbrook, and that the two of them weren't lying when they squashed rumors of a disconnect for years. For people invested in the idea of these guys having a vendetta against each other, this is probably disappointing. Why can't they just play along and say they hate each other?

The short answer is that it's probably just not true. Maybe Durant did go to Golden State in part because he thought the style of play was more appealing than taking turns with Westbrook on offense. Maybe Westbrook was indeed insulted when it happened and disappointed that Durant informed him with a text other than a call. None of that means there's real hostility here, aside from both of them wanting to destroy the other one on the court.

The good news: Durant and Westbrook trying to destroy each other on the court should be entertaining enough.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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