Widely regarded as one of the most surprising and hated moves in basketball history, Kevin Durant's decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors in 2016 had huge implications on the NBA that are still being felt today.
And while many have moved on, one question does remain amongst the hearts and minds of the community: why did Durant leave OKC in the first place?
Well, according to his former teammate Kendrick Perkins, it had nothing to do with the relationship between him and Russ. Rather, it was about getting away from a particular culture:
“World always tried to divide Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook because of Russ’s style of play. We need a pure point guard, he needs to defer to Kevin Durant more," said Perkins on First Take. "Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, they had their rough patches. We know that Sam Presti grew up under what organization, the Spurs. They have a way of going about things. They’re cool-headed, they’re all about culture, they’re not about individual success.
When KD won MVP, I was there. Nike, this is a fact, Nike wanted to put a big-sized poster of Kevin Durant. They will not let him, they’ll not let KD brand himself enough because it was too much about team. And that play, the biggest factor in why Kevin Durant left, because he was tired of being on to that culture and that’s why when we saw him get to Golden State, we saw a different Kevin Durant. He started speaking out more freely, he started carrying himself in a different way because he wasn’t able to be that Kevin Durant in OKC.”
The dynamic between Durant and Westbrook is pretty complicated these days. While narratives of the two being in a rivalry are largely overplayed, it doesn't seem like they are on the best of terms, especially considering the somewhat subtle shots they've taken at each other in the past.
Whatever the case, Perkins is making it clear that Russ wasn't the reason for Durant's departure from OKC. It seems like the superstar, at the time, wanted a place where he could market and grow himself beyond what was possible with the Thunder.
And, considering how good he is, you really can't blame the guy.