Since Kevin Durant made the major decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder after nine seasons to play for the Golden State Warriors via free agency last summer, there has been much said about his long-standing friendship with former teammate Russell Westbrook.
In fact, that has been in the forefront of the NBA for much of the year as arguably the biggest storyline throughout the regular season. According to ESPN, former Thunder center Kendrick Perkins during an appearance on Kevin Garnett’s “AREA 21” show on TNT on Monday night revealed that Kevin Durant had actually spoken to Westbrook near the tail end of the season.
“I think the night that Russ actually broke the record, I had texted KD,” Perkins said, referring to April 10, after Westbrook and Durant had yet to officially speak since Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in July. “The next day, he was talking about something and he sent me a text and was like, ‘Me and Russ had a nice conversation.’ The media don’t even know nothing about it, but I just let it be known that they’re back on talking terms, the differences are aside.”
This is a huge step toward repairing their relationship that had become strained over the last several months of following Kevin Durant’s choice to go elsewhere and leave Westbrook in Oklahoma City. The only known source of communication between the two All-Stars since then was the text message from Durant to Westbrook to inform of his decision. All of this created an awkward sense of abandonment on Westbrook’s end that led to an entire storyline of drama surrounding the two that was only heightened by the increased media scrutiny.
In their first season apart, there was much reluctance to truly address the situation on behalf of both players that brought on more attention to their situation. There were a few moments where subtle messages were sent from each player to the other through the media, but beyond that, it became a drawn out story.
Keep in mind, Kevin Durant had played alongside Russell Westbrook for eight seasons with the Thunder that saw them make six playoff appearances with five Northwest division titles and string together five seasons with 50 or more wins.
However, all of that was seemingly put to the wayside after Kevin Durant decided to depart in free agency last summer that marked the beginning of a tattered relationship between himself and Westbrook. It only grew larger as time wore on and with each head-to-head meeting during the regular season. Kevin Durant got the upper hand in each contest averaging 37.7 points on 65.6 percent shooting from the field and 62.5 percent from beyond the arc along with 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
Meanwhile, Westbrook put up huge individual production averaging a near triple-double with 27.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 9.5 assists. However, he struggled with his shot hitting just 37.5 percent of his attempts from the field and 26.9 percent from 3-point range with 8.0 turnovers per game.
The two appeared to have a glimmer of a reconnection on the court during the 2017 All-Star Game when Westbrook was a recipient of an alley-oop pass for a dunk from Kevin Durant. That said, things remained on the same course for the second half of the season with neither addressing the lingering situation between them.
— What a Game (@whata_gameee) February 20, 2017
With Kevin Durant making the move to reach out to his former teammate after his historic achievement of breaking Hall of Famer Oscar Roberston’s long-standing triple-double single-season record, it could pave the way for further mending of their friendship.
However, that may have to be put on the backburner for the time being with Kevin Durant currently focused on helping lead the Warriors to an NBA title after sweeping the first two rounds of the playoffs, setting up a matchup in the Western Conference Finals against the either the San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets.
[Featured Image by Sue Ogrocki/AP]