HoopsHype Russell Westbrook rumors

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Oklahoma City Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been nominated for the 2014 ESPY awards, according to the list of nominations released today. Durant has been nominated in two categories, best male athlete and best NBA player. Westbrook has been nominated for best comeback athlete. Also nominated for best male athlete were Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and boxer Floyd Mayweather. Oklahoman

June 22, 2014 Updates

All three of those picks worked better than expected. Durant and Westbrook are perennial All-Stars, and Ibaka is one of the best defenders in the NBA. Presti was astute, but he admits luck played its part. “We’ll be the first to say that we’ve had a tremendous amount of good fortune. Nobody in our organization is taking credit for the development of Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook,” said Presti, a Concord native and former Emerson College player. “Our focus was on building a team that was capable of sustainable competitive success. We felt like building through the draft and building an identity for a team over a period of years was the best approach for us. It’s really so much about the individual team and organization and how they see their envisioned future.” Boston Globe

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Ibaka admitted the ploy threw him off, and he had his first dud since joining the Western Conference finals in Game 3. Yet any notion that the San Antonio’s two role players suddenly present an unsolvable riddle for the Thunder in Saturday’s do-or-die Game 6 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) literally made point guard Russell Westbrook shake his head. “They’re not the first stretch-4s that we’ve played,” Westbrook following the team’s morning shootaround. “We played Dirk [Nowitzki], LaMarcus [Aldridge], Kevin Love, all these different bigs that can shoot the ball at a high percentage, so we know what to do.” NBA.com

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For six seasons — from Westbrook's arrival as the fourth overall pick out of UCLA in 2008 when they were tabbed this generation's version of Shaq and Kobe to now — Durant has told anyone who would listen that they were wrong about Westbrook. He said there was no friction between them. But he had never told him like this. "Never, never, never," Durant told USA TODAY Sports when asked if he had ever told Westbrook how he felt. "That was the first time I really got to speak from the heart, you know what I'm saying? I felt that it was just the perfect time. You have that sense of 'Yeah, that guy, that guy right there, he's down for me. That guy loves me.' You know what I mean? And I know we both feel that way about each other without even saying nothing, but to tell somebody in front of everybody with tears coming down your eyes? There's just something special about that. "He's human, man. Everybody makes mistakes, but everybody needs to feel like they're loved. Not liked — or like, I wish this person would say something good about me — but they want to feel warmth, you know what I mean? Comfort." USA Today Sports

Durant's speech, make no mistake, played a part here. "It's easy for me to just talk about a person and just say, 'I love this guy, he's the best person, the best teammate,'" Durant said. "But I wanted it to be authentic and real. You know, there are some days when we don't like each other. That's just normal with relationships you have. I'm sure if anybody has a brother or a cousin or somebody you're close with, you have good and bad days, and that's how our relationship is. But through all that, it's love. "I think that with a person like Russell, it just seems like everybody is always on top of him. I feel that he deserves that love, because you can tell he's one of those guys that likes to feel that love." USA Today Sports

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