Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Address Rivalry Ahead of Suns/Clippers Series

Former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are set to face off in a playoff series for the first time when the Phoenix Suns host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. Though their days on the Oklahoma City Thunder may have ended suddenly and controversially, the two insist there are no lingering hard feelings.

Westbrook and Durant costarred on the Thunder from 2008 to 2016, even making a Finals appearance together following the 2011-12 season. Durant generated contempt around the NBA by leaving the Thunder for the juggernaut Golden State Warriors in 2016. Westbrook rode his increased role and a wave of public sympathy all the way to an MVP in the 2016-17 season. 
History has been much kinder to Durant than it has to Westbrook. Durant has won two NBA titles and two Finals MVPs since the split, and Westbrook has only won one playoff series (with the Houston Rockets in 2020).

Business and championship aspirations may have gotten in the way of Durant and Westbrook's relationship in 2016, but time heals all wounds. Westbrook may have felt abandoned back in the day, but he likely better understands the transience of the modern-day NBA now: he has played on four different teams since leaving the Thunder in 2019.

As much as Westbrook is playing nice, there's little doubt a playoff series win over his teammate-turned-rival would be extra sweet. Westbrook has seen his stock around the NBA plummet in recent years; he was waived by the Utah Jazz earlier this season before catching on with the Clippers. A shocking upset of Durant's Phoenix Suns could be a taste of glory and relevance Westbrook hasn't experienced since... well, since he played with Durant on the Thunder.  

The Suns and Clippers tip off Sunday afternoon at 8:00 PM ET.  

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