Kevin Durant makes his much-anticipated return to Oklahoma City for the first time as a Warrior Saturday night, and there are a lot of emotions all around. Durant said on the Bill Simmons podcast this week that he still has love for all the people there, including Russell Westbrook, the arena staff, everyone. But he's moved on.
The "feud" between Durant and Westbrook is of some debate, with Durant saying the feud is a media extrapolation. That is not what Westbrook has made it sound like, but he too has kept his cards close to his chest in regards to his now-estranged relationship with his former teammate. But on Saturday morning at shootaround, Westbrook finally opened up. He didn't admit that he was hurt by Durant's decision and the fact that they don't speak anymore ... but he didn't deny it, either.
As in-depth as Russell Westbrook has gone about his relationship with Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/7tehmfumwJ— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 11, 2017
"Hurt? I mean, I'm fine. Move forward. Things happen in life, man. As a man you've got to move forward. I've got a great group of guys here that I love like my brothers. There are many teammates that I had here before that left me that are my brothers, that I talk to, that I don't talk to. Not just Kevin. There's many guys that come into Oklahoma City that I feel a relationship with that you guys might not know about, but obviously Kevin's a little bigger stage.
There has been a crush of people wanting to discuss Durant's decision only as a business one, that there was no personal element to it. But Durant's decision did have real human impacts on the lives of people, including Westbrook. Those two fought through a lot together on the court. They poured their heart and souls into these games, and Durant did turn his back on all that history, no matter his motivation for doing so.
When asked if he'll ever re-kindle that relationship, Westbrook's response spoke volumes.
"I'm not sure, it's not really up to me, honestly."
It still seems like Westbrook's problem is with the way that Durant left, sending a text message, and then never reaching out to Westbrook again, rather than the fact that he left. Durant has spoken in plain terms about the decision to leave, but hasn't really talked about how he left the team he'd been with for a decade.
This game is personal. The Warriors will probably win, they are very much the better team. But this game does mean something, even for as much as Durant has tried to position things as "just basketball."