The Return to the Peake
By Michael Doutey
Since July Fourth, the entire NBA has been all eyes on the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Kevin Durant gone and Russell Westbrook staying, we have been waiting for the NBA to announce the return of KD to OKC. We might finally have an answer to that.
Mark your schedule's for Saturday February 11th, 2017.
The villainous Warriors will make their way into the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time since they poached former Oklahoma City darling, Kevin Durant.
This is what the entire NBA is wanting to see in the regular season. The most scrutinized duo in NBA history has split. Since Durant's departure, venom has spewed in reports from different media outlets.
Durant's camp told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck that Westbrook was a big reason that Durant took off for Golden State.
"For the last eight seasons, Durant's fate has been intertwined with that of Russell Westbrook, a dazzling, fire-breathing, occasionally maddening point guard who sometimes forgets he has teammates—including a guy with an MVP trophy and four scoring titles. Their partnership produced four conference finals appearances, and one trip to the Finals, in the last six years. It also produced a simmering frustration that, in essence, paved the way for his exit. Durant wanted an offense that kept the ball moving and provided him easier scoring chances. The Thunder fired coach Scott Brooks, brought in Billy Donovan, and still the offense stalled out at key moments, often with Westbrook dribbling into oblivion. The Thunder led the NBA in blown fourth-quarter leads last season, despite their firepower."
The report continues...
"Ultimately he got frustrated and felt that they had plateaued,” said a person with insight into Durant’s thought process. “[Donovan] came in, and he still had the same issues that he had with Russ under Scotty. The offense didn’t change much. He still had to take a ton of contested shots every game; and that’s when he had the ball at all. He’s never going to have a game in Golden State where Steve Kerr has to say at halftime, ‘You guys need to get Kevin the ball,’ which happened in OKC,” the same person said."
More reports have have come out. This one by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
"For everyone waiting on Westbrook to unload on Durant, they could be disappointed. Yes, he has his thoughts and opinions on Durant’s move, but it is unlikely that he’ll be moved to share them in dramatic detail. What’s more, there’s a significant chance it could be years before Westbrook and Durant ever engage in a meaningful conversation again. Westbrook doesn’t do nostalgia, nor disregard slights – real or perceived."
Then, right from Russell Westbrook's mouth came the shocking truth of how Westbrook found out about the Kevin Durant's move to the Bay. Just like us, he found out by the short note posted on The Players Tribune.
And then came the text... 30 minutes after the announcement. After eight seasons, four Western Conference Finals appearances, a trip to the Finals, three season impactful injures and countless other battles these two powered through together, no call was made telling Westbrook of the breakup.
Just a text.
In the same celebratory press conference announcing Westbrook's extension, he was asked if it stung that Kevin signed with the Warriors of all teams.
"Sting for who?"
The build up for this game is going to he huge. The ABC NBA Saturday Night game series will be kicked off with this game. The questions to Durant and Westbrook leading up to this game will be must watch TV.
How will KD and Russell handle it?
How will the fans react to seeing Kevin Durant live in his old gym in a different jersey for the first time?
Will it be as bad as when Reggie Jackson returned after he "cried tears of joy" after getting traded to Detroit?
What about the ovation Draymond Green received after he kicked Steven Adams in the family jewels and didn't get suspended for the next game?
Will anyone cheer for the old face of the franchise?
The buzz that will surround this game will be playoff-like. It is already palpable and it's still summer.
Get your popcorn ready for February 11th, 2017. It is going to be a battle the entire NBA will have eyes on. And it's in our backyard.
Michael Doutey is a Mass Communications graduate from UCO in 2013 and a current producer for the Sport Animals morning drive show, the Morning Animals. Michael is an avid sport fan and most closely follows OSU and the Thunder. You can follow him on Twitter @mike_doutey