Any number of people could have introduced Kevin Durant during his induction to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on November 19. It could have been Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who drafted Durant in 2007, or Scott Brooks, who helped Durant grow from a rail-thin rookie with massive potential to the league’s MVP. Yet, while Brooks and Presti were good choices, they weren’t the right one, because they aren’t Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder’s point guard introduced Durant during the ceremony, speaking with great admiration for his teammate and, just as important, his best friend. As Anthony Slater of the Daily Oklahoman reports:
On Thursday night in Tulsa, Durant was again honored, accepting his election into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. But the script was temporarily flipped. Westbrook was Durant’s presenter. He was given the microphone and a stage to talk about Durant.
“His passion for his community, for this state, for the organization is unmatched,” Westbrook said, in part, about Durant. “I’ve seen him grow as a person and I can say he has helped me become a better person and player. I love him for that.”
Durant and Westbrook have undergone intense and unfair scrutiny seemingly since day one. There were fabricated feuds, reports that Durant was displeased with Westbrook’s shot selection, and that Westbrook in turn was upset that Durant got all the love while he got all the scorn. Time and again, the duo have dismissed these reports, vehemently and without pause. Durant did that again after his speech.
“I was vulnerable to him,” Durant said. “It was like, yeah, this is someone I can lean on. It showed me a different side of him. Since then, we’ve been really tight.”
“We don’t like each other because he shot more?” Durant asked. “That don’t make no sense. And it’s really disrespectful to me or to us because you think I’m that selfish of a person? I don’t like this guy because he shoots more than me? That’s disrespectful to me. Because if I’m a friend, I’m genuine. I’m there. No matter what. Good days, bad days, more shots. I’m a real friend.”
Durant talks at length in Slater’s article about the affection he has for Westbrook, both as a player and a person. It’s clear, as it has been all along, that these aren’t empty words meant to placate the media. There’s no feud here, only genuine friendship.