Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant responded to the Lil Wayne controversy after the Grammy winner rapper was denied a late request for tickets to Game 3 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday night.
Wayne took to Twitter to criticize Thunder officials and cheer on the San Antonio Spurs, then later said in an interview he feels unwelcome in Oklahoma City for what he viewed as racism.
“Of course, when someone tells Lil Wayne, ‘No,' that he can't come in, ‘We're sold out,' you feel a certain way. Unfortunately, it had to go down like that,” Durant told The Associated Press on Saturday. “We'd have loved to have him here in Oklahoma City. We'd have welcomed him with open arms. Hopefully, we get past that and next time he can come and enjoy a game.
“It was just a misunderstanding. We were sold out of tickets, I heard, and we didn't come through. He knows a few of us on the team and he knows it's nothing like that. We offered him tickets to tonight, but he had to do something. He's a superstar in his own right ... so he can't just pick up and go to a game.”
Wayne said one of his managers has advised him not to return to Chesapeake Arena for sports events or concerts, but Wayne said, “I never say never.”
Durant and teammate James Harden offered Wayne tickets to Game 4, but the rapper refused.
“He had something to do,” Durant said, “but I'm sure if his schedule was free, he would have came tonight. We're still inviting him to games — maybe not this year. Next year or whatever.”
Harden scoffed when asked if he ever felt unwelcome in OKC because he is black. “Not even close,” Harden said.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka shot 11 for 11 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line to finish with a career-high 26 points in Game 4.
Ibaka finished one field goal short of tying the NBA record for highest shooting percentage in a playoff game, set by Larry McNeill of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings on April 13, 1975.
Unlike Ibaka, however, McNeill was not perfect in his game.
In a 102-95 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of an opening-round series, McNeill went 12 for 12 from the field, 4 for 5 from the free-throw line and finished with a career-high 28 points. Interestingly, he also fouled out of the game.
There are similarities between McNeill and Ibaka.
The 6-foot-9 McNeill was a second-round pick (25th overall) of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the 1973 NBA Draft. He died at age 53 in 2004.
The 6-foot-9 Ibaka was a first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2008 NBA Draft.
McNeill's career scoring average was 8.5, the exact same as Ibaka's career average through three seasons.
The Thunder had 27 assists in Game 4, which tied a season high.
OKC finished last in the NBA in assists during the regular season at 18.5 per game and that's exactly what the Thunder is averaging this postseason.
“We have to keep moving the basketball,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We've done a great job all playoffs of not turning the ball over, which was a problem of ours during the regular season, but we somehow have done a good job with that. But just moving the basketball, everybody's touching it, everybody's participating in the offense. You're not just a one-sided offensive team. We're moving the ball to the second side and coming back to the strong side. That's what we have to do.”