You may not have heard, but there has been a lot of talk about Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Not just in the sense that they’re both incredible individual talents that can do amazing things on a basketball court. But in the sense that some think there’s a chemistry issue there. That Westbrook is trying to assert himself as the team’s alpha and take the big shots and big moments from Durant.
Not really true at all, but that’s at least the perception. And despite repeated statements from Durant — and Westbrook — that that’s not at all the case, every time the issue comes up, we all listen real close.
And wouldn’t you know it, it came up again. Durant had some serious media availability over the weekend as his movie Switch started principal photography. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports was one of many that talked to him and Durant was asked about his relationship with Westbrook.
“We butt heads just like any other players because we are both competitive, we both want to go at it, we both have ideas,” Durant said. “That’s going to happen. But I support him 100 percent. Of course, I hated when people were saying the stuff they were saying, and he hated it as well. I didn’t want it to get to his head. I hate when people try to creep into the group and try to break things up.
“I enjoy playing with Russell so much. I hope he understands that, and I’m sure he does. I’m looking forward to next season already. The last thing I’ve been worrying about is what people say about Russ, and I’m sure that’s the last thing he’s worrying about as well.”
Durant was willing to take that even a little bit further too. Not just that he likes playing with Westbrook, but that he sees Westbrook as his point guard, as his guy.
“I don’t want any other point guard,” Durant said. “He’s perfect for us, the type of guy he is, the type of player he is, the type of teammate he is. We’re all competitive, especially me and him. We get the best of each other in practice every day, and we want to go at each other and make each other better. We are going to have disagreements. That’s what all good players on good teams do.”
There’s been some manufactured chatter about Chris Paul and Westbrook swapping places so this was sort of Durant’s way to maybe say he doesn’t want that. Sam Presti says it almost daily — he wants to have a roster that grows, matures and evolves together. And a huge part of that is Westbrook and Durant growing into a tandem that not just is maybe the best in the league, but one that can work in perfect concert.
And I think it’s a good thing that Durant’s being honest about his relationship with Westbrook in saying that they disagree and argue sometimes. We all saw that. But they both want the same thing and they both know it. As long as winning remains the priority and personal achievement stays out of the picture, they’ll be fine.
Durant even addressed in another interview the supposed Kendrick Perkins-Westbrook rift, and gave the same answer, noting that he’s argued with Perkins before too.
“Yeah, I’ve had arguments with Kendrick in the locker room. I’ve had arguments with BJ Mullens in the locker room,” Durant told SI.com. “We’re not going to agree every time. Russ would’ve maybe said, ‘Perk, you should’ve ducked inside the lane and I’d have hit you for a better pass,’ and Perk was like, ‘Maybe I thought about this, maybe I thought about that.’ So we’re not going to always agree. We’re going to always have arguments, but it’s nothing to the point of where guys are going to walk out of that locker room and say, ‘Nah, I don’t like him.’ We’re all going to get it together and we’re all going to figure it out right on the spot. That’s what happens in a group. That’s what makes a group great. Every team goes through it.
“I forgot all about it. It’s over with. It’s done. Everybody enjoys each other’s company. We enjoy having those disagreements, because we know we’re going to get better from it. To be honest with you, I forgot all about it.”
Now, of course there’s the potential that Durant is just kind of doing the normal Durant thing and saying all the right things. It’s not like Durant would ever say, “You know, I don’t really like Russ too much. We don’t get along and he hogs the ball too much.” But we kind of have to take Durant’s comments at face value. He’s said it more than once — he wants Westbrook to be his point guard. He likes Westbrook as his point guard. Could he be lying? Sure. I’m taking KD at his word on it. He’s never given me a reason to doubt it yet.