“You know, we had great years, something that you’ll never take away from us…hopefully he understands, and I’m sure we’ll talk again.”
That quote was taken from Kevin Durant‘s introductory press conference with the Golden State Warriors last month, the rhetoric used by Durant to describe the current status of his relationship with Russell Westbrook likens itself to a relationship that’s far from even being remotely cordial. It’s as if Durant gave Westbrook the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ line and Westbrook is absolutely not having it.
To conclude his statement with, “I’m sure we’ll talk again,” with someone you’ve spent 8 full NBA seasons with reads like an extremely fractured relationship. Which makes it all the more interesting that the official breakup of Durant and Westbrook on the 4th of July bonded the two together in a way probably neither imagined.
As soon as Durant signed with the Warriors last month, every pair of NBA-fandom eyeballs directed themselves to the Thunder organization, but more importantly Russell Westbrook in terms of what his next move would be. Would he stay? Would he go? Would he sign an extension? Would he be put up on the trading block by the Thunder organization only to play the ever so slick card of ‘I’m not committing to your team beyond next year if I get traded there.’
Pundits abound weighed in their two cents on how this saga would play out. And the undercurrent story of it all traces itself right back to Kevin Durant. Popular belief was that Durant would sign a 1-year deal to come back to the Thunder next season, make one more championship run with Westbrook, thus allowing them both to become free agents together. Durant axed all of this by bolting for the Warriors, (while adding he was completely within his right to do so.)
But the aftermath of the decision directly casted Westbrook in bright lights with two huge question marks hanging over his head:
1.) Will you leave us just like KD did?
2). Will you become our hero?
Westbrook just chose the latter last night. According to multiple reports around the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder and All-Star Russell Westbrook have agreed to terms on a 3-year contract extension with the third year being a player option. Westbrook is expected to sign the extension later today, netting him an extra $85 million.
Just like that, there’s no more press conferences discussing whose team it is. There’s no more debates on ESPN about who should get the last shot. In terms of the Oklahoma City history books, Kevin Durant committed a clear-path foul on Westbrook, clearing Russell’s path as the greatest player of the franchise.
Although it’s highly likely the relationship of Durant and Westbrook will get smoothed out over time, Durant also created a storyline that will be entertaining to watch for at least the next few years. Every matchup with the Thunder and Warriors will be more grandiose than ever before. These upcoming matches could very well rival the intrigue and must-see TV ratings that Shaq and Kobe commanded when the pair split back in 2004.
Westbrook already plays with a fervor and ferocity that any causal or hardcore fan can appreciate, but now the traits that make Westbrook such a lovable beast on the floor have been underlined and bolded by the decision of Durant, which forced a decision by Westbrook, which in turned forced a decision for the Oklahoma City fans about who they will call their REAL MVP.