Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook seemed like they wanted to put their feud behind them after a year and a half of bickering. A lot has passed since then. Durant won a Finals MVP and NBA championship; Westbrook won the actual MVP award.
But let's be clear, these two can't — or maybe just won't — control their emotions in each other's presence.
It’s hate. It’s jealousy. It’s loyalty.
The beef not going away anytime soon — even though Durant and Westbrook still try to ignore its existence. Maybe it never will.
That showed in the Thunder’s 108-91 blowout win over the Warriors — a beating nobody thought was possible in Golden State’s Durant-era.
Durant started the biggest fight of the night with Westbrook
The defining snap came after Westbrook picked Durant’s pockets out of bounds. The Warriors were set to get the ball back, when Durant instead crept toward Westbrook, and began running his mouth.
He didn’t stop until the two were face-to-face, and I doubt they were asking each other what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving.
When Draymond Green is breaking up the fight, you know things got heated. Durant clapped as he walked away, knowing he got under Westbrook’s skin.
This wasn’t “just another game,” as Durant had insisted said before. This is a two-year and counting battle of pettiness, frustration and raw anger.
And it continued throughout.
Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook going back and forth pic.twitter.com/btD05rqazP— gifdsports (@gifdsports) November 23, 2017
Durant denied his beef with Westbrook in the postgame conference. But it’s so obvious
“You can’t let emotions seep into business,” Durant said twice after the game.
“The story’s about the game,” Durant said. “They kicked our ass, 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. Please don’t believe it. All the fans, they lying to y’all it’s about basketball and they played a great a game and we didn’t.”
Kevin Durant having none of the theatrics questions postgame : "Did you watch the game or did you just watch the scuffles?" pic.twitter.com/AyEI4TYdLn— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 23, 2017
Durant’s insistence on deflecting is odd. We saw what happened.
Westbrook did much of the same
After the game, Westbrook said the only friends he had on the court were his teammates and the basketball. He said he plays with the same intensity every night no matter if he’s up against Dennis Smith or Reggie Jackson or KD.
Westbrook asked about emotions with Durant, references “the only friend I have is the basketball” pic.twitter.com/hZIHKHdLHI— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) November 23, 2017
Durant told Bleacher Report ahead of the game he believed Westbrook would check on him if he were laying on his death bed, and that’s probably true.
But the on-court beef seems permanent, no matter if Durant and Westbrook acknowledge it. They have two more games scheduled against each other in the regular season at least, in February and April.
You can expect much of the same then and beyond.