Oklahoma City Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got into a public spat in front of thousands of basketball fans on Wednesday in a win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The argument happened on the bench during a timeout in the second quarter of the game.
The two were shouting at each other and had to be separated, reported Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman.
It was as fierce as anything I've ever seen from the two publicly, wrote Mayberry.
It was so fierce, in fact, that fans in the first few rows behind the bench stood up as if a fight was breaking out. Afterwards, though, Durant patted Westbrook on the back of his head and publicly defended him.
Still, the intense verbal spat fueled talks of the rift between Westbrook and Durant.
Durant is the reigning scoring champion of the NBA and the undisputed franchise player of the Thunder. Westbrook is a rising star in his own right. Some, however, contend that Westbrook is a liability who is unhappy with his role under the shadow of Durant.
I just don't trust Russell Westbrook, said Skip Bayless of ESPN. Bayless argues Westbrook wants to be more like high-scoring point guard star Derrick Rose instead of a pass-first point guard who feeds the ball to Durant.
In doing so, he has become a playoff handicap to Durant, who Bayless (and most analysts) consider a better and more efficient scorer.
In Wednesday night's game, Durant shot 10 of 17 while Westbrook shot an abysmal 0 of 13.
Bayless pointed to a game in last season's playoffs when Westbrook shot the ball 30 times while Durant got only 18 shots but still scored more points than Westbrook.
Bayless thinks Westbrook should be traded for a pure point guard like Chris Paul.
Stephen A. Smith of ESPN defended Westbrook, portraying him as someone who is young, talented and not a bad guy. Smith argues that the lack of scoring ability of the Thunder's frontline means the team needs Westbrook's scoring ability.
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