Russell Westbrook downplays first showdown with Kevin Durant
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors will meet on Thursday night at Oracle Arena in one of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups of the early 2016-17 NBA season. The reason of course is the game marks the first time former teammates-turned-rivals Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will play one another since Durant’s defection from OKC.
Prevailing wisdom suggests the Westbrook-Durant showdown will be a fierce battle given all the drama over the past few months. But to hear it from Westbrook, the showdown, despite all the hype, is just another game on the regular season schedule.
“I play every game like it’s my last,” Westbrook said when asked if there’s any additional excitement about the game, via ESPN’s Royce Young. “I play every game the same, always. Like I’ve been saying for years. And regardless of who we play, I’m going to play the same way.”
Durant attempted to tone down the rhetoric this week — after arguably making some missteps since signing with the Warriors — by saying no animosity exists between himself and Westbrook.
When asked if he heard about Durant’s latest comments, Westbrook — as he has in the past when dealt Durant questions — attempted to blow it off, reiterating he will not spend the season answering questions about his former teammate.
“Like I said in Oklahoma City, I don’t know if you guys know, but I’m not answering any more Kevin questions,” he said. “If you want to talk about basketball, I’m more than welcome to talk about that. But other than that.”
It’s hardly surprising — and arguably justifiable — that Westbrook already is growing tired of all the Durant questions. All indications point to Westbrook being content to simply move on from it all.
And move on he has. Westbrook is putting up a triple-double nightly, averaging 37.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists while leading the Thunder to a 4-0 record. He’ll look to improve the Thunder’s record to 5-0 on Thursday night, regardless of the opponent.
On the other hand, despite Westbrook’s insistence otherwise, nothing would be more gratifying than putting up another triple-double in a beat-down victory over Durant and his Warriors.