I can imagine being Russell Westbrook, somewhere on vacation on July 4th, 2016. He’s probably picking out some USA themed crop top with skinny jeans, shoes are optional with this guy. As he is putting together this glorious outfit, he starts to get so many texts that before he has a chance to check his phone, the battery dies. He finds his charger, turns on the phone and before he sees his text messages, an ESPN alert pops up:
“Kevin Durant is taking his talents to the Golden State Warriors.”
I can imagine feeling betrayed by someone that at the very least I considered a friend. Nevermind that Durant affectionately called Russell his “little brother.” Disregard the fact Durant saved a big part of his MVP speech to thanking Russell for making him a better player. The fact that at every post-game press conference the two took questions from the media as a tandem, not individually. Clearly, Westbrook had to feel that all the years toiling with this guy, taking the blame from the media for the team’s chemistry issues while his ‘brother’ rose to stardom, was all gone.
On that day, Westbrook was in a relationship and found out on social media that he was the sidepiece.
There is no other explanation for the disdain Westbrook has shown towards Durant. He dismisses questions about their fractured relationship as professional as he possibly can. Well, except for his “Fashion Week” retort he said at the NBA All Star Weekend. The only interaction they’ve had publicly was their last game, in which Westbrook repeatedly told Durant “I’m coming.”
I don’t think that Durant went without texting Westbrook about the situation. I believe Durant possibly waited until the news went public, then tried to text Westbrook. By then, Westbrook deleted Durant’s info and off muscle memory of Durant’s number when he saw the text decided against a “new phone, who dis?” reply.
The thing that is in question is the actual depth of their relationship. My friends and I have had our fair share of quarrels over the years. Most of my friendships are 20 years long. In our early teens and young adult years, a disagreement would be settled with a quick shoving match or fist fight. Hours after we’d be playing video games like nothing happened. These days my friends and I are too old to fight. So, maybe a shoving match and some pointed words of anger but then you agree to disagree and move on.
Westbrook is acting a like a scorned lover. In my experience, when a partner is fed up they will do enough to get your attention but act as though they’ve moved on. Hence the some of Westbrook’s outfits before Thunder-Warrior games.
The credentialed photographer outfit: A play on Durant’s hobby of photography.
The Any Given Sunday Willie Beamen jersey: now this one can be interpreted several ways. My personal take on it is Beamen was often blamed for the team’s shortcomings in the movie. He was considered a ball hog and me-first teammate. However, when the QB Jack Rooney was too hurt or considered too soft to play, Beamen lead the team to victory.
I don’t want to speak from both sides of my mouth but Russell Westbrook is one of my favorite players in the league. He’s fearless and he has endless energy on both ends of the floor. What Westbrook will realize is that this path was predestined just for him. His own team! James Harden was traded away years ago. Serge Ibaka is now in Canada. Durant is taking photos in San Francisco. Westbrook has everything he wanted through his actions but could not ever verbally say. He has his own team and he can do it his own way. All the aforementioned players will have some of the best years of their respective careers WITHOUT each other.
With Westbrook chasing history, averaging a triple double thus far this season he can be in reach for a MVP award. His actions will determine which “MVP” recognition he ultimately receives.