Kevin Durant gave his Game 6 sneakers to Bubba Watson after eliminating the Clippers

Kevin Durant gave his Game 6 sneakers to Bubba Watson after eliminating the Clippers

After putting the finishing touches on a 39-point, 16-rebound, five-assist performance that propelled the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Los Angeles Clippers and into the Western Conference finals for the third time in four years, Kevin Durant slipped off his sneakers, shuffled across the court and handed them to a fan waiting on the far sideline for a chance to shake the hand of the newly minted NBA Most Valuable Player. That wasn't just any fan, though — even those of us who aren't Joe Lacob/Steve Kerr-level golf aficionados can recognize two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.

So how did the 25-year-old Durant and 35-year-old Watson get acquainted? Like many burgeoning friendships in this modern world, it apparently got its start on Twitter. From Golfweek's Jeff Rude:

During the last three weeks, Watson also has struck up friendships with NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Apparently Bubba doesn’t do scrubs.

After James sent him a direct message via Twitter, Watson shot back with, “I saw you on a cellphone commercial, so you can just text me if you want to give me your number. We don’t have to tweet each other.” James obliged, and the texting exchanges began. Watson also has communicated with Durant via the same medium.

“Obviously that’s a big deal for me,” Watson said.

Watson started communicating more frequently with Durant after the publication of the now-infamous (and now even more laughable) "Mr. Unreliable" headline in The Oklahoman on May 1, according to Golf Channel's Jason Sobel:

“I sent some messages back to Kevin Durant, when that article came out, or the headline came out, which was one of the dumbest headlines I've ever seen. [...] I guess it worked, because it inspired him a little bit, or maybe it's my text message that inspired him. We'll go with that.”

If it's all the same to Watson, we'll stop just short of attributing Durant's 25-point, 12-rebound, 8-for-11-from-the-floor second half to memories of inspirational Bubba texts from weeks gone by, but after punching OKC's ticket for a Western Conference finals matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, KD sure did seem happy to see the two-time Masters champ. The ending of Game 6 might have stung Watson as confirmed Clippers fan, but as consolation prizes go, exiting Staples Center with a pair of game-worn KD 6s ain't too shabby.

Show 'em off for us, Bubba:

Just steer clear of trying to turn this into some sort of "Thunderstruck" reboot with "Like Mike" shoe-centric style, and we'll be all set.

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Dan Devine

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