The Phoenix Suns are one game away from the Western Conference Semifinals after picking up a 112-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon to extend their series lead to 3-1. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George absent due to knee injuries, the Clippers were led by Russell Westbrook, who scored 37 points in the game, the most he’s scored since joining the team following a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers and a buyout by the Utah Jazz.
Westbrook has been a lightning rod for criticism in recent years, and after the game, Kevin Durant got asked about this. Durant and Westbrook, of course, were teammates to start their careers with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant left to join the Golden State Warriors, which led to some tension between the two.
But things have smoothed over since then, and during his postgame media availability with Chris Paul, Durant got asked about a quote Monty Williams gave just before where he said that no MVP player has ever gotten the amount of criticism that Westbrook receives.
Kevin Durant on Westbrook:
“When he retires, people are gonna tell the truth about how they feel about his game. Right now, [they] make a joke out of Russ.”
“I feel like the only people to do that is the people who don’t know basketball.”pic.twitter.com/7EuCCoVgg2
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 22, 2023
“People are going to always criticize when you’re successful and doing your thing for this long,” Durant said. “Somebody’s gonna always find something that they don’t like about you, but Russ has been resilient his whole life, he come to work, don’t say much, just come hoop. So, you know, when he’s retired, people are gonna really tell the truth about how they feel about his game. Right now, it’s a fun thing to do, is to make a joke out of Russ. But the way he’s been playing since he got to the Clippers shows everybody who he really is.
Paul then spoke up in praise of Westbrook, who he called “one of my closest friends.”
“I feel like the only people that do that, too, is the people that don’t know basketball and don’t know what it’s like to compete,” Paul said, which Durant agreed is the case.