By Patrick Barron
Sports Business Writer
The 2016-2017 National Basketball Association (NBA) has reached its midway point with the Annual All-Star festivities about to commence. This year, the All Star game will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, the second time the city hosted the game. However, before the fun begins, the attention-grabbing headline that is sure to attract attention is the Durant’s return to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the first after his departure from the team, as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
The superstar small forward for the Warriors, Kevin Durant and the superstar point guard for the Thunder, Russell Westbrook and are no longer good friends. Both were first round draft picks chosen by the Thunder in two years 2007 and 2008, for Durant and Westbrook respectively.
In addition, if there was any indication of animosity between the two players, one has to look at the game recently, between the Thunder and the Warriors. During the game, there was a little back and forth between the two players as Westbrook simply responded to Durant’s trash-talk with “I’m coming”. Unfortunately, for the Thunder, they lost the game with the final score being 130-114.
While Westbrook may have scored 47 points, he had 11 turnovers. Certainly, that is the not the way to win a basketball game against the dominant Warriors. It is interesting to note that Durant is averaging 37.7 points against his former team in three games so far, all victories against the Thunder.
The outcome of the game has to remind Durant why he moved on from the team. He wanted to win his first NBA championship, and sensed that the Thunder could not help him achieve his goal. Already one of the greats of the game, he was missing a championship from his impressive resume, despite almost appearing in the Finals after leading 3 games to one in the Western Conference Finals. Therefore, he made the jump to the Warriors this past summer.
Furthermore, this year’s All Star Game has everyone thinking who will win the Most Valuable Player of the game. Although the Warriors have four players on the West team, and the team’s coach, Steve Kerr, will coach the conference, Westbrook can never be counted out.
There is speculation as to if the four Warriors players will play alongside him during the game. Westbrook can single-handedly turn the odds of the winning the All Star MVP awards in his favor. If Westbrook does pull if off, it will be his third straight. Already the first player to win the award back-to-back, this year’s award will be special for him.
Ultimately, the relationship between the two former teammates, Durant and Westbrook appears nonexistent and any chance with a reunion in the future looks like a long shot. Westbrook said, “He plays for his team, I play for my team. Let him do his thing, I do my thing and that’s it. Plain and simple.”For fans of the two players, it may be a tough reality to accept.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 print edition.
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