PREVIEW: Westbrook and Durant Face Off for the First Time
The NBA season is just a few games in and there is already a game coming up that you’re not going to want to miss. If you follow basketball, or even if you’re close to somebody who does, you’ve probably heard about Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors. This is a big deal for a lot of reasons.
First, Kevin Durant has been with the Thunder his entire career, well kinda… he played for the Seattle Supersonics his rookie year, after which the team moved to OKC where they now reside as the Thunder; so basically the same team. Because Durant has been there for so long, he had a large, loyal fan base… HAD. When he left for the Warriors there were a good number of his former fans recording videos burning his jerseys out of betrayal. His jerseys also went on sale in OKC for $15 at one point. He hurt a lot of people, so there’s that.
Not only did he hurt his fans, but he also left for the team that had just eliminated him and the Thunder not even two full months prior. Kevin Durant’s summer ‘16 went a little something like this:
- Mid-April: Arrive at NBA playoffs
- Mid-May: Get eliminated from playoffs by the Warriors
- July: Get signed to the Warriors
- August: Play in Rio Olympics and get picked on by the entire team
KD basically left his team to be with the enemy so he can compete for a ring. The only person to ever do this and probably take more heat was LeBron James when he left Cleveland for the Miami Heat where he went on to win two championships (as planned) while gaining leadership and winning experience to take back to Cleveland. I don’t know if KD will go back to OKC after he gets a ring (if he does), but he has already talked about how much he has learned in his short time with the Warriors; it’s a completely different playstyle and culture than he was used to in OKC.
When it comes down to it, Kevin Durant plays basketball for a living, and he took a job with a better “company” to achieve his personal goals of winning an NBA championship. Obviously, he hurt some feelings along the way. But when it comes to achieving one’s goals, sometimes you have to do what it takes to put yourself in that position of such success. One way to evaluate it is like this: are you happy right now (with zero championships)? If not, what could you do (where could you go) to be happy? If you do that thing (make the move), do you believe it will make you happier? It all comes down to happiness. If Kevin Durant wanted to make that move, you can’t blame the guy for it. He is only trying to do what is best for himself. What he did happened to hurt a lot of people, but in his eyes, his happiness is more important than what he left behind. Speaking of what he left behind…
Russell Westbrook is obviously pissed that Kevin Durant left for the Warriors, but he has been using that frustration as fuel for domination this season. In his first three games, he has over 100 points, over 30 rebounds, and over 30 assists - he’s the first player to ever have those numbers in the first three games. Two of those three games were triple-doubles, and one of those triple-doubles included a 51-point performance. The last player to have a 50-point triple-double was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in 1975. Kevin Durant has created a monster in Russell Westbrook. He is looking to carry his team to the playoffs with an obvious path towards MVP candidacy as well.
The OKC Thunder will play the Golden State Warriors this Thursday, November 3rd. I would like to see this meeting go smoothly for both of these guys. They are both extremely talented players who have been in MVP discussions for years on end. Westbrook has that mamba-like mentality, and Kevin Durant has the ability to score any way he wants. It will be cool to see these guys try to make amends this Thursday, but the beautiful reality of sports is that anything can happen. I will be live-tweeting the game on the @AbstractSports account - join me in the conversation.