There will reportedly be three times as many security officials as normal traveling with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday when they meet the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The reason? Kevin Durant. According to ESPN, neither the player, who didn’t exactly leave the Thunder on the happiest of terms, nor his business manager, Rich Kleiman, are taking any chances when it comes to their safety.
Kevin Durant is back in OKC. pic.twitter.com/nALt6LgQBC
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 11, 2017
Kleiman, who was instrumental in setting up the free agency meetings for Durant that eventually led him to the Warriors, will reportedly be sitting in the stands at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena alongside Durant’s mother, Wanda. ESPN reports some of the extra security officials hired will guard them.
The Warriors, meanwhile, said they were assisted by eight to 10 off-duty police officers during their stay in Oklahoma City, per The Post’s Tim Bontemps. Additionally, the team said they were the ones who secured the officers, not Durant.
Meanwhile, all eyes on the court will be on how Durant and his former Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook interact. The two have not kept up their friendship since Durant announced he was leaving for California. At times, they even seemed to be turning into enemies, with Durant appearing to brag once about how much more fun he was having with the Warriors, and Westbrook appearing to troll Durant on multiple occasions, including in a duo of Nike Jordan ads.
In reality, the pair’s friendship may have already been falling apart before Durant decided to go.
“When you start to figure out what you do and who you are outside of basketball, at an early age, Russell figured that out. I didn’t,” Durant told Bontemps in November. “We’re not going to hang out every day like we did when we were 19, 20 years old. That’s just unrealistic. That’s just life. You don’t hang out with your 19-year-old buddies no more every day, if you’re growing up and doing your own thing. Our personalities, my interests, went another way, and his went another way, and I respected that.”
When asked about Saturday their relationship, Westbrook echoed those thoughts at first, noting, “Things happen in life.”
“There’s been many a teammates that I’ve had here before that left me, and they’re still my brothers — that I still talk to and I don’t talk to. Not just Kevin,” Westbrook said (via the Big Lead).
He added: “But I think obviously with me and Kevin it’s a little bigger stage.”
As Westbrook continued to share his thoughts, however, it appeared, perhaps, that the pair’s split wasn’t entirely mutual. When asked whether he thought he and Durant would ever rekindle their friendship, Westbrook said, “It’s not really up to me, honestly.”
A look into both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s season prior to Durant’s 1st game back in OKC
Watch live on @ABC at 8:30 pic.twitter.com/lKw1ZPrkNb
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 11, 2017
The game is set to air nationally on ABC starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.