The relationship of these two NBA most valuable players rapidly turned from a great relationship between two teammates to one of the most exciting clashes of the league.
Durant and Russ arrived in the NBA in 2007 and 2008, respectively, where they wore the same colors for eight seasons. In Oklahoma City, they both displayed an exceptional game, next to James Harden, which took them to the 2012 finals against Miami Heat where they could only win the first game. While they played together, it was well known that both players had a good relationship. Durant even addressed some emotional words to Westbrook in his MVP ceremony:
“I love you. I thank you so much, man. You make me better.”
However, this friendship came to an end when Kevin Durant decided to join the Warriors after losing against them in the conference finals, which obviously Westbrook didn’t like. A lot of people considered that this was a stab in the back as Durant didn’t talk to Russel before this decision became public, and he was joining the team to beat in the west. He didn’t have to talk to him, but after an eight-year relationship probably it would’ve been appreciated.
Everyone was expecting for Russ’ declarations after Durant’s departure, but he only posted an image of cupcakes on his Instagram, which implied the soft decision that the former OKC player has taken. And thus, a rivalry had been born.
After Durant left OKC, Westbrook released a commercial for the Jordan Brand with the tagline “Some run, some make runways.” People interpreted this as a message for the 2014 MVP. Before their first matchup, Westbrook decided to show up to the game with an “Official Photographer” bid. Durant considered himself as an amateur photographer who even got to cover the Super Bowl 50 months before this game. The second time they faced each other, Golden State beat Oklahoma City with no problems. At the end of the game when Thunder's center, Enes Kanter, approached to salute his former teammate, Russ was caught on camera cursing him out for saying what’s up to Durant. All the hate seemed only to come from the Thunder player's side, which was understandable, he was the one that was “stabbed in the back.” When Durant was asked about their relationship, he would only say that it was a tough time for the two.
Nevertheless, this last season was different. In their two games, both All-stars took part in heated moments with a lot of trash talking. Although both players appeared to enjoy it as if it was a healthy rivalry.
Surely, this is just the beginning of a long beef between two of the best players of the league. Perhaps the Warriors facing off the Thunder in the upcoming playoffs would make this an even more exciting duel.