Courtesy of Anthony V. Slater
The Rolling Stone article came out recently that characterized you guys as ‘work friends.’ For years, you constantly told us you two were ‘brothers.’ Which is it?
Durant: “We were brothers. We are brothers. When you do a story for Rolling Stone, we talk and then he writes the story how he wants to write it. He came up with that term on his own. That got kind of miscommunicated through the entire thing. Me and Russell grew up together. I was in the phase of finding out who I was outside of basketball. He already knew who he was. He already had a stable life. He had stable parents, a girlfriend through college. I didn’t have none of that stuff. I’m trying to find out who I am, which I didn’t know, which is not a bad thing. He knew who he was. So obviously we’re going to grow toward this way (splits arms). It’s not a bad thing. It’s not at all. We still hung out. We’re boys. My interest went this way, his went that way. He got married, I didn’t. He hung with his wife. What you want me to do? I love Russ. I don’t care what nobody say. I don’t care what he say or what the fans say. Like, this is a tough time right now in our relationship. But I love Russ. I love his family. They all know that. I never did anything morally wrong. I never back-stabbed him in real life, never did anything behind his back, never told anyone anything about his character. Never did any of that. I just left teams. I just switched teams. Everyone on the outside is looking at it as, ‘Oh, you must not have liked him.’ Hell no. C’mon man. Nobody understand that part. I’m trying to find out who I am. He knew who he was. He knew what he wanted to do. He got married young. He met his girlfriend in college. I didn’t have none of that. I didn’t have two parents in a home with me. I’m still trying to search and find out who I am. We end up going this way (splits arms again) as far as off-the-court personality wise. And that’s not a bad thing.”
But some of the criticism through this whole thing is that, after all those years together, you just sent him a text message when you left.
Durant: “Yeah, you know, I understand that. I understand that. That’s something me and him will talk about. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying I did it the right way. I’m owning up to that. We’re not going to go through this in the media though. I’m not going to say I should’ve did this, should’ve did that. We’ll figure our differences out as men 1-on-1. He’s doing his job right now and he’s doing a helluva job. And I’m doing my job. Of course we’re not going to talk every day. But like I said, I don’t care what y’all say, fans in OKC, media, whoever. We’re going through a tough time right now in our relationship. But we’re brothers at the end of the day. When I say that, where I come from, I mean it. You know what I’m saying? Every time I got into it with the media (during my Thunder days) or whoever, it was never over me. It was always over someone I was riding with, my teammates or my coach. So that should tell you enough.”
Does it bother you at all that — the opinion for a lot of years was ‘They’re not that close’ — and to some, this departure has been confirmation of, ‘See, I knew they weren’t.’
Durant: “Confirmation, how? How can you comment on anything? So if I go into your life and say, you don’t mess with Darnell Mayberry (my coworker in Oklahoma City). You left him. You’d be like, ‘Hold on, no, we’re bros. You don’t understand coming into work every day with somebody. You don’t understand our relationship.’ So I can’t comment on it. You only see (Russ and I), everybody only see us, on this court at 7 o’clock. So how can you comment anything we have going on relationship wise? Basketball wise, you can make your assumptions because it’s out there in front of you. That’s the facts. But you can’t tell me what type of person I was with Russell or what type of person he was with me. They don’t have a clue. They don’t. So how can they say that? All that stuff I hear is lies. All that stuff that I’m taking shots at the Thunder or Russell. It’s just there to try to separate us. They did it when we were playing together. They tried to separate us. So obviously they’re going to do it even more now. C’mon. I don’t have nothing against Russell. As I shouldn’t. And I don’t think he have nothing against me. I don’t think he’s taking shots at me. I don’t think he’s doing anything that everyone is putting out there. It’s for your entertainment, your pleasure, your joy. I see it all the time. They want us to beef because of the game on Thursday. They want more suspense and excitement when they turn the TV on at 7:30 or 10:30 or wherever you are. That’s what they want. But I’m not letting that get between us. Yeah, we’re going to handle some stuff as men behind closed doors. That’s how you’re supposed to do it. I’ve never said I was right about everything. Never said that. But we’ll handle that.”
Kendrick Perkins said something recently that on the court wise, he thought you guys didn’t value each other enough.
Durant: “That’s bull****, too. I love Perk. I respect Perk. But that’s his opinion. He wasn’t there the last two years, or the last year-and-a-half. We valued each other. I went out of my way during games, ‘Throw it down there to Russ, get a basket!’ He went out of his way to toss it back to me for dunks. We valued each other. I chose a different path. I chose to go somewhere else and that has nothing to do with Russell or how we were on the court. Nah. I just chose to go a different way.”
Five, 10, 20 years from now, you expect him to be a lifelong friend?
Durant: “This basketball (bleep) is fake, man. It’s not real life. I love it. I go to work every day. I work hard every day. But when you’re talking about off the court stuff, that (bleep) is not real. What would I look like being mad at somebody for 20 years? Or having a feud with anyone for 20 years? Hell yeah, if I’m getting married, he’s getting an invite. If I go to the Hall of Fame, he’s getting an invite. Even if he don’t accept it. Basketball beef, I’m not on that. Where I come from, we don’t play around with that. So I’m not into that basketball beef. When we’re on the court, of course we’re going to compete. He’s going to come at us, I’m going to come at them. Their whole team going to come at us and vice versa. But nothing more. And I don’t expect nothing less. But outside the court, all this other stuff, c’mon man. What we talking about? Don’t come to me trying to have us feuding, or any NBA player for that matter. Between the lines, I’m going to do me and they’re going to do them. Off the court, I don’t have that much energy to be wasting beefing with anybody. If you don’t like me, you got an opinion on what I did, I respect you. I got love for you. Because I know the grind, I know how hard it is to get here.”