Kendrick Perkins joined the Vertical Podcast with Woj and among many interesting topics, like his time in Boston, Kevin Garnett, mentoring Anthony Davis, his time with OKC, getting traded … the most interesting thing he talked about was Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Perk starts talking Thunder around the 35-minute mark, but gets into Westbrook and Durant at around 40 minutes. He says a lot, but I found this to be the most insightful:
“I think what it was was this. Russ actually did value KD as being the player that he is. But what I had to explain – and I explained to KD – is that what you have to understand also about Russ is that Russ, at the time, he wasn’t getting the credit of being on the same level as KD. But he had the potential.
And like I was saying was, the whole thing was that, I thought out of all that, it never really came down to those two guys that got in the way of each other. It always was the outside that got in the way of both of them. It was always the outside. It was always a controversy of whose team it was.
Why it just can’t be both of y’all’s team? How about Russ goes for 50 one night, you go for 60 the next night? How about it just be both of y’all’s team. And the thing is is that, at the time, KD was already probably a two-time All-Star, the No. 1 draft pick while Russ, when I first got there was still kind of putting his name out there. And then all of a sudden, Russ caught up to KD, and they both was kind of on the same level as far as just being the elite icons of the league.
And I just think that they will have some type of regrets in the next 10 years or when they’re done about that they couldn’t handle it better when they was still together.”
That was definitely something important. Westbrook isn’t a good communicator with friends — shocking, he’s not much of a people person — but really respected Durant as a friend and teammate. He often didn’t make that very known. Durant is more outward with his affection, and that showed with him talking lovingly about Russ all the time. But when it came down to them as players, the outside noise of alpha dogs and team control and leadership invaded their relationship, mainly on the Durant side. It was exhausting and annoying, and something Durant grew tired of worrying about.
There’s also this from Perk:
“It’s cool that KD, you’re a man, you decide the decision that you want to make. But at the end of the day, there’s a way about how you go about it. And you don’t send Russ a text and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to the Warriors.’
No, you do like LeBron James did when he left Miami. He went down and he sat and had dinner with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to tell the that he was leaving, that he was going to sign with Cleveland. That’s what you do. That’s what you do. That carries a long way. It don’t take you nothing to call Nick Collison and Russell Westbrook and go and sit down and have a conversation with them and say, ‘Guys, hey look, it’s been fun. I still love y’all like my brothers. But I’m going to Golden State.’
I think it’s more of his personality that it would have been hard for him actually look Russ and Nick in the eyes. Because if he would have sat down at a lunch table, I think it would have been the same thing that happened with DeAndre Jordan It’s easier to text and be done with it than actually sit down face-to-face and actually look your friend and your brother in the eyes that you done went to war with for six years. It’s a lot harder, and it make your decision a lot harder.”
That’s a pretty telling thing right there.