Kevin Durant: Dialogue Around Russell Westbrook, NBA Is 'So Toxic at This Point'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 18, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 17: Kevin Durant #35 of Team LeBron and Russell Westbrook #0 of Team Giannis speak after the 2019 NBA All-Star Game on February 17, 2019 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Few people in the NBA understand what makes Russell Westbrook effective on the court better than Kevin Durant after they were teammates for eight seasons on the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Brooklyn Nets star believes criticism of the Los Angeles Lakers point guard has gone too far.

Durant talked about a number of NBA topics during a discussion with Eddie Gonzalez for Boardroom, including the criticism Westbrook faces on the Lakers (12:15-15:30).

Videos of Westbrook not joining his team for a pregame huddle or during a brief meeting in a stoppage of play made the rounds on social media this preseason, but Durant pointed out that "Russ always did that … it felt like he was just getting his mind right."

"But if you're playing in L.A., if you're playing next to the biggest figure in sports in LeBron James, everything you do is going to be magnified," Durant continued. "Especially if the outside perception is that your team is going to struggle."

The future Hall of Famer used the discussion about Westbrook to make a larger point about NBA discourse.

"The dialogue around our game is just so toxic at this point," he said. "I get criticism, but it's starting to turn into something else right now."

Perhaps nobody in the league faced more criticism than Westbrook last season, as his first campaign with the Lakers went anything but according to plan. He struggled to adjust to playing alongside James as a ball-dominant playmaker and hit just 29.8 percent of his three-pointers.

At one point, the nine-time All-Star said the constant belittlement he received was bothering his family.

While Durant and Westbrook may not have always been the best of friends since their days as teammates ended, the former had the latter's back ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.