A few days before returning to Chesapeake Energy Arena as a visiting player for the first time on Saturday, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant told ESPN's Marc Stein that the media is responsible for the supposed "feud" between himself and former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook.
"Early on in the season, I was doing an interview with someone and I used the word 'unselfish' describing my teammates here with the Warriors," Durant said. "And someone asked Russell a question, asked if he heard what I said about being unselfish and he phrased the question as if I was saying that the Thunder and their organization and the team was selfish. Once I heard that, I was like, 'They are trying to get in between this thing and make it bigger than what it is.' Obviously Russell wasn't going to hear that interview I had about me just talking about my teammates I have now, and, you know, someone in Oklahoma City phrased it to him as if I was calling them selfish. So it's that easy. It's that easy for the media to twist something up and for the media to, you know, make a feud between us."
All of this happened in the preseason. Back in October, Durant said that Golden State was a "perfect fit" in part because it had players who are "selfless and enjoy the game in its purest form." Durant did not say anything negative about the Thunder -- and, publicly, he still hasn't -- but the quote was relayed to Westbrook, who sarcastically called the quote "cute" and said his job is to worry about the "selfish" guys the Thunder apparently have on the team. All of this made headlines and annoyed Durant, who sees it as "fake drama" and has since said that he has no beef with Westbrook, loves Oklahoma City and loves watching his former co-star play.
Westbrook, however, has not been similarly complimentary of Durant, instead choosing to deflect questions about him. While it sounds like Durant laments the fact that they've been pitted against each other since he made his free-agency decision, Westbrook has never seemed to care. If they're going to smooth things over at some point, both sides would have to be motivated to do so.
All of this is to say that, yes, Durant's example is valid -- he didn't actually diss OKC, but Westbrook (and, surely, a significant amount of Thunder fans) were under the impression that he did. That doesn't mean, however, that the rift is entirely media-created. Westbrook took a secret, subtle, tasty shot at Durant on the Fourth of July, and his near-silence on the matter since then speaks volumes. The media has amplified the disconnect between the two, sure, but it's clear they're not exactly on great terms.