s a child, we all remember our favorite teammate. The one that would always have our back, in the best of times and the worst of times. Some of us maintain those tight bonds to this day.
With Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, this not the case. The latter of the duo made a blockbuster move by leaving his teammate of eight years in the off-season. The controversy comes because Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, the same team that defeated the Thunder in the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
If the NBA is a business, why is it such a big deal?
When Durant and Westbrook were teammates, they recorded several milestones together, such as becoming the first pair of teammates to score 40 points in a single game.
In 2013, Durant won the NBA Most Valuable Player award. When he gave his speech, he spoke about every one of his teammates, saving Westbrook for last.
“I know ya’ll think I forgot about Russ,” Durant laughed. “But I could speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy, who would run through a wall for me. I love you man.”
By most accounts, the duo were as close as brothers. That’s where the controversy lies.
As a child, the unspoken rule of tattle-telling on your brother is synonymous to Durant leaving Westbrook for the Warriors. Was he wrong from a business aspect? No.
Did he permanently scar a friendship forever? That remains to be seen.
Most would say yes. Both players were voted into All-Star Weekend for their play during the first half of the NBA season, and the entire world was watching.
The media did their job to make sure any contact or non-contact between the two superstars was publicly put on the front page. Reporters barraged the two with questions about each other so much that one would have thought they had a secret bromance under wraps. Russell continually took the high road by changing the subject to fashion whenever a question about Durant rose.
“Russ, what’s it going to be like to be back in a locker room with your old teammate Durant?”one reporter asked.
“Man, fashion week has been great,” Westbrook said. “I love fashion week, you seen fashion week? Been paying attention to fashion week?”
Russell is clearly either choosing not to talk about Durant, or is suppressing his anger until he gets on the court. Maybe both.
In a heated game on Feb. 11, the duo exchanged words in a confrontation during the fourth quarter. Other NBA analysts have chimed in on the situation about who was wrong in their eyes.
“I know exactly how Westbrook feels,” said future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. “I did the same things to Penny Hardaway when I was on the Magic.”
What it comes down to is business. Kevin Durant made a business decision, because after eight years and zero championship rings to show for it, he’s thinking of his legacy.
Lebron James made his famous move to Miami for the same reason. No doubt Lebron loves his hometown, but a legacy is how a player is remembered. Durant still loves Oklahoma City and Westbrook, but his goal is winning. Only time will tell if Durant made the right decision or not.