Could Matt Barnes’s crack about Russell Westbrook have helped Kevin Durant decide to leave OKC?
A story about Matt Barnes getting under a guy’s skin is nothing new, but this one is different.
Now teammates, Barnes and Kevin Durant crossed paths many times while in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City, most notably in a hard-fought playoff series in 2014. As one of the premier defensive forwards in the NBA, Barnes was tasked with covering Durant during those meetings. As the owner of one of the sharpest tongues in the NBA, Barnes also used the opportunity for some incisive trash talk.
“The only person in the world who can stop you,” Barnes crowed, “is your teammate.” The most effective trash talk, Barnes has discovered in more than a decade of NBA rabble-rousing, is the kind spiked with the smallest shred of truth.
The “teammate” Barnes refers to is, of course, Russell Westbrook, with whom Durant had his fair share of disagreements.
While it’d be a stretch to suggest that Barnes’s cutting remark is responsible in any significant way for Durant’s eventual decision to split up with Westbrook, the discord between two was undeniably a factor.