In 2014, and up until about three days ago, there seemed to be no greater teammate friendship than that between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
"I love you, man. I love you," Durant said to Westbrook during his acceptance of the 2014 MVP award. "A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player and I’m the first to have your back, man, though it all. Just stay the person you are. Everybody loves you here. I love you. I thank you so much, man. You make me better.
"You know, your work ethic, I always want to compete with you. I always want to pull up in the parking lot of the arena, or the practice facility, and if you beat me there I was always upset. I always wanted to outwork you. You set the bar. You set the tone. Thank you so much, man. Thank you. You have a big piece of this. You’re an MVP-caliber player. It’s a blessing to play with you, man."
But it wasn't always roses between the pair of Oklahoma City Thunder superstars.
Back in May, Royce Young, who covers OKC for ESPN, wrote about a meeting Durant had scheduled with GM Sam Presti during the 2010-11 season to "discuss his growing doubts" about playing with Westbrook.
The meeting never happened, with Durant resolving to make it work. But tensions still ran high. In December 2011 a sideline argument between Durant and Westbrook took place during a 98-95 Thunder win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Westbrook shot 0-of-13 and scored four points.
Now that Durant is leaving OKC for the Golden State Warriors and reporters close to the team seem to be airing out the Thunder's dirty laundry, Young has provided a relatively juicy missing tidbit from the story.
On the TrueHoop Podcast, the reporter said that when Durant asked for that meeting, he had been telling others that Westbrook was the worst teammate he'd played with in his life.
"I didn't put this in the piece piece but I'm willing to say it now," Young said. "The person that told me this said that Durant was telling people that Westbrook was literally the worst teammate he'd ever had. He didn't want to play with him any more. But this kind of goes to show Durant's impulsiveness. "
The reporter also detailed Durant's reaction to a playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Also around the time it was the playoff series where Westbrook had taken like 31 shots against the Denver Nuggets and they lost Game 4, and this is when the narrative started of Westbrook shooting more than Durant, like 'Can they coexist? Westbrook shoots more than Durant,' and Durant was buying into that. Like he was buying into that idea and he wanted to sit down and say like 'I can't play with this guy.' He got talked out of it, he resolved to make it work with Westbrook, and they obviously had an incredible relationship.
In that 2012 loss in a first-round series the Thunder would take 4-1, Westbrook shot 12-of-30 for 30 points; Durant shot 8-of-18 for 31 points.
This "incredible relationship" didn't stop the two from getting into sideline arguments as recently as this season.
Young also explained that Westbrook very much wanted Durant to return to the Thunder, though admits there's no indication regarding whether the point guard wanted the 2014 MVP back for one more season, so they could both hit free agency in 2017, or on a long-term basis.
While their relationship improved greatly, it's still not hard to believe that, off-the-court friendship aside, sharing the floor with Westbrook frustrated Durant enough to at least become a factor in his decision to leave for the Warriors, arguably the ball-sharingest team in the league.