NBA All-Star 2017
News and notes from Friday's All-Star Media Day
NEW ORLEANS — It might require digging deep into the gumbo pot, searching beneath the red beans and rice or under the powdered sugar that covers the beignets. But the tastiest and most anticipated item on the NBA All-Star Weekend menu is the reunion of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as teammates.
Russ and K.D. will be together again in the West locker room Sunday for the first time since Durant bolted the Thunder as a free agent to join up with the Warriors and all speculation is on how the pair will react to once more sharing the same uniform and the same ball.
Durant was voted onto the West starting lineup by the fans and members of the media. Westbrook was added to the roster by vote of the Western Conference coaches.
But sitting on opposite sides of a hotel ballroom Friday at All-Star media day, neither player would give an inch or a clue.
Durant was asked how it will feel to play with Westbrook again.
“I’m excited to be here,” Durant replied.
Westbrook had a bit more fun wit the throng of media questions.
What will it be like to be in the same locker room again with Durant?
“Fashion Week has been great,” Westbrook said. “Have you seen Fashion Week? Are you paying attention to Fashion Week? There have been a lot of good things in Fashion Week. I’m looking forward to all the new collections. It’s been good, man.”
What will you say to K.D.?
“Man, you see some of the new clothing?” he said. “They got the new Jordan hoodie with MJ. There’s a lot of great things in fashion that I’ve seen. The Gucci stuff is dope.”
West coach Steve Kerr of the Warriors will have four of his players players — Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — in the lineup Sunday and said he won’t try to play the role of peacemaker between K.D. and Russ.
“The thing I want is for our players to enjoy the weekend,” Kerr said. “It’s a hectic weekend for all of them, it’s a great honor to be here. I want everybody to be comfortable and happy. I don’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be out there holding meetings but I’m going to create a comfortable environment for the players. I hope that everybody just relaxes and enjoys themselves and I’m pretty confident they will.”
The pair has been on the same court three times already this season with Durant’s Warriors beating Westbrook’s Thunder all three times. They last met on Saturday night in OKC when Westbrook finished with 47 points and Durant 34 in another Golden State win. Following that game, Durant said it was time for Thunder fans and reporters to move on.
“I don’t know,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know what’s y’alls problem. What it look like? That’s y’alls problem. I don’t know what y’all need, but I’m in a great place. I’m happy. I’m having fun. I’m having a great time. I’m happy with my team I have now.”
The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony was excused from arriving in New Orleans in time for media day because he was a late addition to the East roster as a replacement for the injured Kevin Love … LeBron James of the Cavaliers was said to have a family obligation that will delay his arrival until Friday … The Lakers’ Nick Young, who will compete in the JBL Three-Point Contest, had a flight delay that caused him to a no-show.
The Raptors’ Kyle Lowry was asked if he looks at Boston’s 5-foot-9 All-Star Isaiah Thomas and shares a little man’s kinship. “First of all, I’m 6-1, so I ain’t that small,” Lowry said. “But we’re good friends and he shows that it’s possible for anyone to be successful at anything they want to do.”…Pacers forward Paul George said despite Indiana underperforming this season and some of the blame being pointed in his direction, he’s still committed to the franchise. “Every night I try to go out and try to be the guy for us,” George said. “I want to be the guy for us. I embrace the challenge. I want that. I’m committed to Indiana and that Pacers uniform.
The Bulls’ Jimmy Butler says the difference in playing in an All-Star Game from a regular season can be seen on players’ faces. “There’s a lot of smiles that you don’t get in a normal NBA game,” he said. “You get to share what you have in common with everybody that’s around in your All-Star locker rooms East and West. Then four days after the game, you’re back to being enemies. So you enjoy the truce, so to speak.”… Golden State’s Stephen Curry says he’s not planning to return to the JBL Three-Point Contest anytime soon. “I’ve done it six times, I think,” he said. “I told myself I was going to do it until I won, and I won two years ago, and then I had to come back and defend my title. But I got beat by my teammate, Klay Thompson. So I passed the torch on to him and let him win it for the Warriors this year, tomorrow night.”… Despite being a two-time participant in the game, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas believes there are still skeptics about a 5-foot-9 All-Star: “I think so. I think some people still doubt,” he said. “Some people still don’t give me my just due and my respect. All I say is I’m going to keep going. I got more to show. I feel like I can continue to get better. It’s only the beginning.
Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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