Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are 'still cool,' according to Kevin Durant

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Russell Westbrook (right) listens to Kevin Durant after the Thunder beat the Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. (J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook (right) listens to Kevin Durant after the Thunder beat the Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. (J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors was the story of the summer in the NBA. That’s due partially to fans and commentators reeling at the prospect of just how good the Warriors — who have made two straight NBA Finals trips, just set a new record for the winningest single season in NBA history, and employ two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry as well as two-way All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — might be now that they’ve added one of the two or three best basketball players in the world. It’s also due, though, to the dissolution of Durant’s eight-year on-court relationship with Russell Westbrook.

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Shortly after Durant announced his intention to leave Oklahoma City, reports began to surface aimed at revealing the 2013-14 NBA MVP’s thought process. Maybe his departure was the culmination of long-simmering frustration with Westbrook’s at-times domineering on-court style. Maybe he thought it was the best move for his career and life. Maybe it was both, or maybe KD just liked the idea of moving someplace else.

Whatever the reasoning, the specifics surrounding the separation have drawn plenty of attention and raised plenty of eyebrows, with reports that Durant “didn’t even call to tell [Westbrook] personally” that he was leaving, that Durant had bid farewell to his longtime running buddy in a text message, that Durant expects their “relationship probably won’t ever be the same again”. Westbrook, for his part, has largely stayed mum on the matter; his first public response to the Durant question was a loud laugh, and nothing more.

Friends turned foes, teammates turned rivals — it’s the stuff of high drama, sure to get an awful lot of eyeballs on the first-ever contests between the two All-NBA stars this season. And yet, asked about where their friendship now stands during a Nike event this past weekend at the University of Texas, Durant’s alma mater, KD shrugged off the suggestion that the two are bitter enemies.

From Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

Said Durant: “We’re still cool. We’re going to compete against each other at the highest level. We’re gonna have fun against each other. We’re still cool.”

It might be hard to imagine that, given how hot Durant and Westbrook’s competitive engines run and the fact that KD not only left the Thunder, but did so to join the team that knocked Oklahoma City out of the postseason in a seven-game Western Conference final slugfest mere months earlier. And yet, even if things aren’t quite as “cool” right now as Durant lets on, Westbrook himself seems open to the possibility that they can be some day.

“We’ve been together eight years,” Westbrook said last month after finalizing a three-year, $85 million extension to remain in Oklahoma City. “You don’t throw that away. Obviously he’s now with a new team. But we definitely will talk. Eventually. But, obviously, now we haven’t.”

And yet, there’s Russ’ new Nike commercial, complete with the tagline, “Some run. Some make runways” …

… which sure didn’t seem like a nod to everything being copacetic.

And, to be fair, it would be weird if it all was cool. It would stand to reason if Westbrook felt kind of ticked off and/or betrayed, and it would be understandable for Durant to feel like the backlash he received for making a free-agent choice (while not nearly at the levels that LeBron James faced in 2010) was unwarranted, and it would make sense for both parties to feel, if nothing else, a little weird about the prospect of squaring off after having shared the court in the same uniform for the better part of a decade. Sorting through the emotions that come with the end of a long-tenured working relationship and a change in what sounds like it’s been a sometimes complicated but deeply felt friendship can be complicated; just as it was encouraging to hear Westbrook say you don’t throw away eight years of friendship, it’s nice to hear Durant say he believes things can be cool between the two stars.

That said: if you don’t believe they’re 100 percent OK right now, though, Just two months removed from KD’s exit …

… well, you’re probably not alone.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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