NEW ORLEANS – It appeared détente started once Russell Westbrook passed to a former teammate he has refused to speak to for seven months.
After catching the ball, Kevin Durant then set up on the block. He threw a lob for Westbrook to finish. And suddenly give-and-go diplomacy helped thaw an icy relationship stemmed from Durant’s free-agency departure from the Oklahoma City to the Golden State Warriors.
In that moment, Durant and Westbrook became more than just teammates by virtue of representing the Western Conference All-Stars in their 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Sunday at Smoothie King Center. Durant and Westbrook showed off the chemistry they once displayed through eight seasons together with the Thunder.
Western Conference forward Anthony Davis, who was MVP after posting an All-Star record 52 points on 26-of-39 shooting and 10 rebounds, called the sequence a “defining moment in history.” Yet, it does not appear Durant and Westbrook engaged in any give-and-go diplomacy.
“He threw a lob,” said Westbrook, who had 16-of-26 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench. “That’s all that happened. Just threw a lob. It’s basketball. That’s it.”
Durant equally downplayed the moment.
“It was a good play,” said Durant, who had 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting. “Good catch, good finish.”
Their muted reaction may not be surprising. Ever since Durant alerted Westbrook about his free-agency decision via text message, the pair’s interactions changed. Westbrook tweeted out a photo of cupcakes, a nickname he had assigned for people he considered soft. While the two talked trash at times during their regular-season matchups, they often refused to answer questions about the other. Even during pregame warmups, Russell shot by himself away from the other Western Conference All-Stars that also included Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Yet, the other Western Conference All-Stars offered a…