Yeah, this is totally 'just a regular game' for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

Exhibit No. 836 why this isn’t “just a regular game” for <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4390/" data-ylk="slk:Russell Westbrook">Russell Westbrook</a> and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4244/" data-ylk="slk:Kevin Durant">Kevin Durant</a>. (AP)
Exhibit No. 836 why this isn’t “just a regular game” for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. (AP)

The fervor over Kevin Durant’s departure has subsided a year later, and the bitterness between him and Russell Westbrook isn’t so fresh anymore, so the two ex-teammates are here to tell us that Durant’s Golden State Warriors visiting Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder is “just a regular game.”

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“It’s just a regular game for me now,” Durant told reporters from St. John’s University in New York, before the Warriors traveled westward to Oklahoma City on Tuesday. “I learned how to tune out the crowd, I learned how to tune out the bulls*** and just play. Just keep it at basketball.”


“It really don’t matter who we have next at this point,” Westbrook said from practice in OKC. “It’s really about us, man. I think regardless of what other teams do, we know if we play the way we’re supposed to play for 48 minutes, it’s hard to beat us, and that’s all I worry about is our team.”

Well, then, nothing to see here. I guess we can all just turn the channel to the Miami Heat trying to end the Boston Celtics’ 16-game win streak, then, because there will be no photographer’s bibs, no cupcake hats, no in-game shouting matches, no postgame “b**** a**” references — none of the pettiness that carried their feud through an entire season. We can’t expect any of that, right?

Wrong.

In one way or another, Westbrook and Durant spent the months leading up to Wednesday night’s game in OKC reminding us that this is not just a regular game and it does matter who they play next.

Westbrook intentionally waited until Durant’s birthday to announce his contract extension and emphasize his loyalty to the city where they spent eight seasons as teammates. Meanwhile, Durant spent two in-depth interviews with GQ magazine and Bleacher Report informing us how hurt he was by Oklahoma City’s response to his departure and how much it means to him to exorcize his demons.

Let’s not forget the Twitter drama this summer, when Durant said, “He didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan. His roster wasn’t that good, it was just him and Russ,” then adding, “imagine taking Russ off that team, see how bad they were. Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.”

Westbrook stored that away in his “likes.”

This is Durant’s first game back in Oklahoma City since those comments, so spare us with the “just a regular game” bit, because it’s not — not for Durant, not for Westbrook and not for OKC fans.

Yes, both teams could use a win against any quality opponent, what with the Thunder struggling to find chemistry between Westbrook and new teammates Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, and the Warriors owning an 0-2 record against the two conference leaders (Celtics and Houston Rockets). But this game means more to both sides, regardless of whether Durant wants to talk about it or not.

We know this, because it’s obvious:




Get your cupcakes ready.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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