Kevin Durant Defends Russell Westbrook Amid Strong Criticism

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

Getty Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (L) and Russell Westbrook #0 look on during a press conference after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder

Last week, I named my NBA All-Criticism list after Ben Simmons talked about he and Kyrie Irving bonding over the constant criticism that they and other NBA stars face. Other members of the team were Simmons and Irving’s Brooklyn Nets teammate Kevin Durant and Durant’s former teammate Russell Westbrook. While NBA players as a whole face a lot of criticism, those are the players that likely get the most. 

Kevin Durant Sounds Off on Westbrook Critiques

Just like Irving defended Simmons amid criticisms last week, Kevin Durant defended his former teammate Russell Westbrook on the latest episode of his ‘The ETCs, Kevin Durant and Eddie Gonzalez’ podcast that he does with Boardroom. He pointed out that it isn’t an issue with Westbrook but a toxic fact of the NBA as a whole. 

“I mean Russ always did [that pre-game routing]. It feels like he was just getting his mind right, just his own routine before the game. But if you play in L.A. next to the biggest figure in sports in LeBron James, everything you do is gonna be magnified, especially if the outside perception is that your team is gonna struggle. People don’t trust that your team is gonna be good.”

“That’s how they feel about us, the Lakers, teams that they had high hopes for last year that didn’t come through. The Lakers got a big microscope on them so you got to be on point every time. So if Russell misses a layup it’s gonna be blown out of proportion. If he misses a 3, he might be 5 for 7, but he missed those two shots, you know what I’m saying?” 

“I understand that there’s certain points where you don’t play well and you are open to criticism when you don’t play well — we get that. But it’s like now you’re making him the butt of your jokes. It’s getting to a point where it’s like alright, I get the criticism for what he did that night, but now it’s starting to reach a different level with some shit that I don’t understand right now. So hopefully he just keeps hooping and blocks all that noise out and prove to everybody that they’re wrong about how they feel about his game and they mesh over there in L.A. But when we play them, I hope they play shitty, but I hope all that stuff works out because I hate how they talk. The dialogue around our game is just so toxic at this point. I get criticism, but it’s starting to turn into something else right now,” Durant said on his podcast h/t CBS Sports

Kyrie Irving’s Defends Teammate Ben Simmons

Again, NBA All-Criticism team teammates Irving and Simmons have found commonality with each other, and Irving has been able to give Simmons advice on dealing with it, but he also shared his support for Simmons as well in a conversation with ESPN’s Nick Friedell. 

“I think one of our greatest strengths as a human community is humanizing each other’s lives. He’s a human being, so he’s going to respond his way. And he’s going to deal with things his way, and we have to honor and respect that. That’s what people with integrity do. Not everyone lives by those same moral principles, so yeah, as a leader, I feel like it’s my responsibility to protect him, but I also must understand he has to go through things on his own. And when he asks for help, just be there for him.

I don’t want to say I have all the answers figured out myself because it’s an ongoing battle myself, just dealing with those ebbs and flows. But for him, I just don’t want to see him get caught up in the same nonsense.” Irving told Friedell

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