More than any alleged alpha dog feud or imbalance in their shot attempts, the on-court bond between Westbrook and Durant really seemed to boil down to one thing: two 23-year-old All-NBA talents learning to play together.
Anyone who watched the Thunder for any stretch outside of just the playoffs had long known that Westbrook had a tendency to make questionable decisions and Durant struggled to get open and routinely make high-percentage plays down the stretch.
Those traits ultimately became the basis of all the scrutiny.
As each player reverted to what came natural, national pundits blasted two young players who were only trying to help their team. Their awkward stares at each other on the court as they attempted to figure things out on the fly only fanned the flames.
“What people don't know is this game, it's got a lot of emotions with it,” said reserve point guard Eric Maynor, who famously replaced Westbrook down the stretch of a Western Conference Finals game against Dallas. “And when you're in the heat of a battle and you feel like somebody should have did something, maybe you get into an argument, and then people take them arguments and run with them. But we take the arguments and then in the next play we're on to the next one. We leave that game and we're still friends. Nobody has a problem with nobody on our team.”
When asked his reaction to the national response, Westbrook said he didn't have one.
“It was nothing. The reaction was that the Oklahoma City Thunder got to the conference finals,” Westbrook said. “As a team, I think we've done a great job of getting better. I wasn't really trying to make it about me or Kevin. I was more worried about how our team was doing.”
Westbrook said he talks to Durant every day and they've had positive communication going into this year about what they need to do to improve. All they can do now, Westbrook said, is learn from last season and move forward.
“That's the best thing you can do, just learn and get better with each other (through) practice,” Westbrook said. “Me and Kevin have been playing with each other for three years now. We're learning. It's definitely going to be miscommunication at times. But that's a part of basketball. But we're definitely going to learn.”