Chris Mannix: "The relationship between Kevin Durant an…

Chris Mannix: “The relationship between Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City was never really torched. Oklahoma City always said the right things about him, and they always did right by him publicly. And the relationship between Durant and Russell Westbrook, while not being great by any stretch, is probably as good as it’s been since he left Oklahoma City. So all those things are gonna factor in and make me think Oklahoma City will at least be on his list of possibilities [in free agency] next summer.”

More on Durant-Westbrook Relationship

Sports Illustrated: KD liked the comment 👀

http://twitter.com/sinow/status/988484771058679808
Connor Letourneau: Durant said he f—— up his dynamic with Westbrook at All-Star last year. Said he let it be a thing when he should’ve just gotten out of his own head.
Kevin Durant and his mother, Wanda, believe the hype surrounding Durant and Russell Westbrook has gone too far. "It's not about me and Russ," the small forward told ESPN after the Golden State Warriors lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-91 on Wednesday. "It's about the Thunder and the Warriors. Myself and Russ are competing out there. That's part of the game. It's basketball. It's not about us. We're just playing the game, and trash talking is part of it. That's all it is."
"It's OKC," Wanda Durant [Kevin Durant's mother] said. "It's the same atmosphere that they've always had, so we wouldn't expect anything different. I just think it's too hyped. It's just basketball. Not even as a fan and being here and watching both of them, I really don't get it. But it is what it is."
Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Durant finished with 21 points and five rebounds. First, Durant and Westbrook appeared to exchange some words during the second quarter of OKC and Golden State's first meeting of this season. After Westbrook forced a turnover, he was shown on the broadcast saying something as Durant walked away and laughed. Per reporters at the game, the Thunder guard made KD laugh by shouting or shaking his head "No" at the crowd.
Late in the second quarter, Westbrook denied a post entry into Durant and the ball sailed out of bounds. Westbrook turned to the Warriors' bench and yelled, "No!" Durant pointed at Westbrook while just smiling. Westbrook was then fouled on the other end by Draymond Green. Green didn't like the call, and he began clapping in the vicinity of Westbrook, and the reigning MVP began clapping back at him. The two had a few words before Westbrook went to the foul line to take his shots.
Halfway in, Westbrook was guarding Durant on the right wing and he almost stole the ball, slapping it out of bounds. The two began jawing at one another and inching closer. Soon, they were forehead to forehead, talking trash. Durant was seen saying, "You're a p---y." Westbrook responded, "You're soft."
"I play the same way every night if it's against Kevin or if it's against Detroit," he said. "It don't matter who it is. On the court I have no friends. The only friend I have is the basketball. That's it. And obviously my teammates, but I go out to compete and to guard and play at a high level. I've been that way since day one and that's what I do." Durant enjoyed the chatter. "Man, it's just ball," Durant said. "He's competitive, I'm competitive. We like to go at it, both of us, and that's just a part of the game."
Durant: "The story's about the game. They kicked our (expletive), they played a great game. You should give them credit for how they played and we should be better. It's not about who's in each other's faces. That stuff is not real, so please don't believe it. All the fans, they're lying to you all."
Erik Horne: Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant get double technicals after some jawing. Chest-to-chest. Durant's agent, Rich Kleiman, was up clapping and Durant walked over to give him a five. Westbrook's dad is sitting three seats down from Kleiman. Fun scene.

https://twitter.com/bballbreakdown/status/933525209511952385
Royce Young: Just mentioning for no reason at all not related to anything in the world at all... today is Kevin Durant's birthday.
Adam Kemp of the Oklahoman passed along comments George made during a television interview with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski about the apparent rift between two of the league's top players. "Whatever went between him and Russ that's their business," he said. "It's not my point to want to know or want to figure out what happened. It's pointless. They are buddies, they are back good again. I'm here to build something different and something special."
Noah Coslov: Here's Kendrick Perkins on Area 21 on KD & Russ being on speaking terms and thoughts on KD returning to OKC at some point.
Speaking after Golden State’s Monday morning shootaround in OKC, Steve Kerr disputed the report. “I don’t agree,” Kerr said. “(Thunder GM) Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know (Thunder owner) Clay Bennett. It’s a class organization all the way, so I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name name that’s put on it. I assume it’s just sources. Is it ‘sources’? I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. We have great respect for them. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first-class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”
But once again, even without being on the court this time, Durant is at the center of this swirling NBA drama. “This league is a very interesting place all the way through,” Steph Curry said. “Certain stories that don’t need to see the light of day, don’t need to have any life breathed into them somehow are the most popular. That’s kind of how it goes. To me, it’s kind of comical what can be put in the spotlight during an 82-game year…I actually look forward to waking up and seeing what ridiculousness is posted.”
The pregame scene was just another in a weekend full of them showcasing the tension between Westbrook and Durant. At the Saturday "practice" -- loose quotes at that -- as the Western All-Stars were announced, they gathered at midcourt, each player running through the line dapping each other up. Durant was the second player out, behind Stephen Curry, and as Westbrook had his name called a few players after, Durant was sitting back on a table by himself as Westbrook ran out. The feeling in the practice locker room was described as "painfully quiet and uncomfortable." In the subsequent mixed-zone media availability, Durant walked by Westbrook as the two appeared to strain so as not to make eye contact.
It was jarring to watch Westbrook and Durant actively avoid each other, because it was a far cry from the way it used to be at All-Star Weekend. They've spent five together as teammates -- both for the Western Conference and the Thunder -- and while the weekend's proceedings kept them separate for large amounts as they tended to sponsorship appearances and charity events, when they had the opportunity to, they were together. Durant and Westbrook made it a point to ride the same bus to every event they were both going to, always sitting next to each other. They would go out of the way to make sure they rode together to Sunday's big game, with Durant driving 25 minutes in Toronto traffic to meet up with Westbrook at the Jordan Brand hotel last year. That happened in New York the year before, and in Houston in 2013 (Westbrook missed 2014 due to injury), they met in the middle.
Some in Durant's circle have tried to mediate, such as at Mahogany where someone went to Westbrook's private room to let him know Durant was there. (They didn't talk.) If the relationship is ever going to be restored, Durant is going to have to be the one to personally extend the olive branch, because he's the one that broke it in the first place.

http://twitter.com/MamaDurant/status/832993916991500289

http://twitter.com/ChrisBHaynes/status/833009247323615232
Asked if he'll use the opportunity to make amends with his ex-teammate, Durant said he doesn't know. "It isn't even something I'm thinking about, to be honest," he said Friday on SportsCenter. "If it happens organically, it does, but I'm not planning to do anything. ... If it happens, it does. If it doesn't, it's no big deal." Instead, the former MVP's priority is to enjoy the weekend's festivities. "I'm going to handle All-Star weekend like I always do. Get in and get out. Do everything I'm supposed to do. Play the game and have some fun. I ain't come here for it to be any drama or have a heart to heart with anybody," he explained.
Green said: “I don’t necessarily want to mediate it. I just don’t want any awkwardness in the locker room. We’re here to have fun, we’re All-Stars, let’s have a great time. I’m not gonna mediate anything, but I would like to help get rid of the awkwardness.”

http://twitter.com/ErikHorneOK/status/832622943985283072
Marc J. Spears: On what he makes of the Russ-KD feud, ex-Thunder guard James Harden of the Rockets told SportsCenter: "I don't understand what is going on. I don't understand. Obviously, they feel some type of way. It's part of the game. Part of a guy going to a new team."
One last thing about their relationship, him and Russ. You told Adrian Wojnarowski that it’s sad for you to see that, you hate that it’s come to that. What do you think it’s gonna take for those guys to get back to what they had? Kendrick Perkins: I don’t think it’s a real beef there. I think it’s just more so maybe feathers being ruffled, just feelings being hurt. I don’t think either one of them got hard feelings. I done been around them for going on four, five years – numerous group messages to dinners to card games to whatever – and I know both of them really care about each other. And I think more so it’s the outside world that kind of blow it up and keep adding fuel to the fire. If you look back on it, either one of them never commented and said nothing negative about either one of them. I think in due time, they’ll mend. I was just talking to Russ, and Russ don’t have any hard feelings toward KD, and KD feel the same way. So I think in due time, they’ll get back on point where they’re talking again and get that relationship back.
Steve Kerr: "The only thing that you have to do as a coach in the All-Star Game is to parcel out the minutes. That's it. You don't draw up any plays. At least I don't; I didn't two years ago. So we've got to figure out the minutes, and I have thought about it and I'm not going to share it with you here today."
Stephen Curry: "I feel like we'll be mature enough to just enjoy being All-Stars and being in that locker room and what wearing the West All-Star jersey means and celebrating everybody's accomplishments. Obviously there's competition and there's history and whatever you want to call it. But at the end of the day we're all trying to push our games to the next level and continue to just raise the interest [in] the NBA as a whole and do special things. And I think we all fit into that category. [I] can't speak for KD or Russ or whatever, but being at All-Star is a special thing and you want to respect that."
Durant desired continuity and teammates willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. After nine seasons with the franchise, he wasn’t convinced that would ever occur. Durant and Westbrook were never the best of friends. They were good teammates, similar to good neighbors. It seemed Westbrook wanted the numbers; Durant wanted the wins.
The Warriors got Westbrook to go one-on-one instead of running the offense. Westbrook’s eight assists accounted for 19 points. But that was almost offset by his turnovers, which equated to 15 points for the Warriors, per ESPN Stats & Information research.
As the Thunder attempted to chip at the Warriors' double-digit lead in the third quarter of the "Kevin Durant Return" game on Saturday night, former teammates Russell Westbrook and Durant exchanged words. A timeout was called and then the two had at it.
Kevin Durant to our own Mike Breen and Lisa Salters on the friendship between him and Russell Westbrook: "To be honest, I don't think it's that serious. Obviously, me and him have to figure it out. But it feels like everybody's trying to get in the car with us and listen to our conversation when it has nothing to do with anybody else.”
With Kevin Durant set to return to Oklahoma City for the first time since joining the Golden State Warriors, Russell Westbrook talked as extensively as he has in months about his severed relationship with his former teammate. "Obviously, us playing here, we grew up here together," Westbrook said before Saturday night's game. "Since then, his decision has been made about what's best for him and his future and I made the decision that was best for mine, and that's just how it's been."
Durant and Westbrook have not spoken since Durant announced he was joining the Warriors last July 4. Asked how that could be with a player he often referred to as his "brother," Westbrook said that's just how it is. "Sometimes it happens like that," Westbrook said. "There's nothing I can say about it. Sometimes that's how things go."
Look, Kevin Durant can say he holds no ill will all he wants for Oklahoma City. Bottom line, though, is the Warriors pretty clearly love sticking it to the Thunder, for some reason. Durant makes his return to Oklahoma City for the first time since abandoning them last summer, and the Warriors hyped the matchup on their Twitter account, showing Durant going up against his good friend and former teammate ... Andre Roberson.

http://twitter.com/anthonyVslater/status/829912835320901632/photo/1
In a SportsCenter sit-down with ESPN's Marc Stein, Durant also insisted that ?he is prepared for whatever reaction greets him at Chesapeake Energy Arena, saying: "I know what's important [to Thunder fans] and their team is way more important than just one player. ... I'm not going in there acting like I'm going to be praised, I know how it's going to be." "I know they're going to be rowdy in there, man," Durant told Stein. "I've been a part of some of the loudest nights in that arena. So I know it's not going to be the friendliest welcome, but, like I said, I can't wait to see the people that I really built relationships with over my time there and, you know, I'm sure fans that I got to know throughout my time playing there, even though they might not cheer for me out loud, I'll give 'em a wink and they know what we had deep down inside."
"I was doing an interview with someone and I used the word 'unselfish' to describe my teammates here [with] the Warriors and someone asked Russell the 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 the organization and the team was selfish. And 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 [full] interview I had about me just talking about my teammates I have now and someone in Oklahoma City phrased it to him as if I was calling them selfish. It's that easy. It's that easy for the media to twist something up and for the media, you know, [to] make a feud between us."
Never mind that Westbrook would later make it clear that the two are still not on speaking terms, or that this was just the second time Durant had seen his old team since his surprising exit from Oklahoma City last July. This, Durant explained after his 40-point, 12-rebound, four-assist, three-block performance in the Warriors’ 121-100 win at Oracle Arena, was nothing more than your typical playground scene. “That’s all it was,” Durant told USA TODAY Sports. “You talk a little trash. (There’s) no tension. Nothing went on out there. Both teams played hard. He did what he’s supposed to do. I went out there and did what I was supposed to do. It’s nothing serious, man, nothing that we’re going to take off the court, you know what I’m saying? It ain’t gonna seep into the real world. It’s just basketball talk.”
“To be honest, I’m not even focusing on the negative outside noise or the controversy (with Westbrook), because it’s not real; it’s all on the computer,” he said. “If I start focusing on that, then I start believing what everybody is saying about this situation. It’s not even that bad. It’s really not serious, at the end of the day."
“It’s nothing. There is nothing. Nothing to even to write about,” Durant said. “He’s on his team. I’m on my team. It is not a soap opera. It’s not VH1. It’s basketball. He’s doing his thing. I’m doing my thing. Ain’t nothing to it. We will [talk] when we will [talk]. There are plenty of times when I go months without talking to my friends. I’m out here grinding, doing my thing. He’s doing his. So, ain’t no hard feelings on my side. I don’t even think about it.”
Westbrook is one of the two frontrunners for the league’s MVP award, blitzing the stat sheet by turning the sublime into the routine, all while averaging an unconscionable triple-double. “The outside is taking it more serious than probably we are,” Durant told The Vertical. “I’m out there doing my thing. I don’t have time to focus on things that really don’t matter to me.”
Watching them on opposing sides might still appear to be weird, but not to them. “Not anymore,” Durant told The Vertical. “First game was. But now, it’s just competing. Going out there and playing as hard as I can and trying to help my team win. It’s simple.”
Apprised by a reporter that he was caught on camera in a brief verbal exchange with Durant, who scored a season-high 40 against his old team after pouring in 39 in their first meeting, Westbrook denied that it happened. “What exchange?” he said. “You may need to sit closer to the game because you didn’t see it clearly.”
Carl Steward: When asked if he and Durant are on speaking terms, Westbrook said "Nah." Denied verbal exchange during the game, despite a camera shot of it
The trio combined to score 71 points in a Game 1 win over LeBron James’ Heat. They were three wins from an NBA title. Harden was 22, Durant and Westbrook were 23. The chatter was building: Would this brand new franchise, plopped in middle America, rule the NBA for the next decade? “No. We never looked at it that way, like we could be best of all-time,” Durant said. “It was really AAU basketball, man. We were just having fun. We weren’t listening to anyone on the outside, media, none of that. It was just pure fun. When we did hear something about the group, it was like, what is this? That was so foreign to us because we never paid attention to it.”
Discussing the game itself is as far as Durant is willing to go. As for an update on whether there has been any communication with Thunder guard Russell Westbrook since that early-season contest, Durant is not going down that road. "I talked about that already," Durant adamantly said. "I'm not talking about that right now. Anything about the game, I'll talk to you. All that other stuff, I don't have anything to say." The two still haven't spoken.
“What? F--- do I look like, man? Why would I ever say that?” Westbrook said in pregame interviews, apparently unaware of the video until he was asked about it. “I would never say no other man’s name like that, for one. ‘Thank you Kyrie.’ What do I look like? I was talking to my trainer’s daughter. His daughter’s name is Jayme. ‘Thank you Jayme.’ I’m tired of – I ain’t about to keep going on that. I’m gonna keep my spirit up. I’m not about to even involve myself in no dumb stuff like that. Next question, man.” As he waited for another question, Westbrook muttered, “Dumb a-- s---.”
Durant and Westbrook actually went to chapel at the same time before the game, but said they didn’t speak. “I don’t talk to anybody in chapel. I listen to the word and I get back to the locker room,” Westbrook said.
Durant has been politically correct when answering questions about Westbrook, the Thunder and Oklahoma City since arriving at the Warriors. But he revealed that his kindness hasn’t been rewarded. “One thing I was doing too much of was I was trying to be delicate with everyone’s feelings, especially the fan base in OKC, and my former teammates,” Durant told The Undefeated. “I had to realize that they don’t care. They’re going to dissect what they’re going to dissect. I was trying to be really considerate of their feelings and everything.”
So why haven’t Durant and Westbrook resolved their divorce? “It’s because of the outsiders,” Thabeet said. “Mostly, it’s the outsiders. It’s almost like everything Russell does is a shot at Kevin. It’s not even like that. Those guys actually have their lives. I talk to Russell. Russell’s my guy. He’s married. He’s happy. He’s living his life. “At the end of the day, these outsiders will fade. Somebody is going to win this year, and they are going to forget about this moment. It’s part of sports, I guess.”
With heavy anticipation centering on how Westbrook and Durant would greet each other before tipoff, the two didn't even look at each other. Westbrook took his traditional spot underneath the opposing basket and spoke to no Warriors players. Durant didn't shake hands or talk with any of his former teammates. "As soon as the game started, it brought back some memories," Durant said. "But after that it was back to business."
He arrived at the game wearing an orange vest that said "Official Photographer." One of Durant's primary off-court hobbies is photography. Asked about the connection before the game, Westbrook said, "Just cause I wanted to. There's no particular reason. There's no story behind it. It's just because I wanted to wear it. "I don't wear anything for nobody. I wear what I want to wear when I want to wear it."
Just as Durant was glued to the television to catch Westbrook's highlights, the basketball world will be tuning in to watch how the two interact with each other on Thursday. Just don't expect a friendly opening greeting upon taking the floor. "I don't shake hands. That's something I've never done before a game," Durant said. "I just take the court to play. After the game, that's different."
The upcoming matchup carries heavy amounts of hype and anticipation, with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder meeting former teammate Kevin Durant for the first time since he joined the Warriors over the summer. Asked if there's any extra level of excitement going into Thursday's game, Westbrook said it's just another game on the schedule. "I play every game like it's my last," Westbrook said. "I play every game the same, always. Like I've been saying for years. And regardless of who we play, I'm going to play the same way."
Durant couldn't hide his enthusiasm and excitement. Although he had just helped the Golden State Warriors secure a 122-114 victory over the Pelicans by registering 30 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals, his interest was centered on Westbrook. "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."
Storyline: Durant-Westbrook Relationship
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November 25, 2020 | 10:10 pm EST Update
E’Twaun Moore: I want to thank the city of New Orleans and everyone who showed love throughout the past 4 years! We made some great memories and can’t ask for more! You will be missed!! 🙏💯#NOLA #504 #grateful

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