Some wounds just never heal. Overtime they are bound to but in some cases that has not been the norm. While former adversaries like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird have patched things up after searing rivalries at the height of their sporting powers, others have not been able to do so.
Case in point, Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas have not been the best of friends during and after their playing days in the Chicago Bulls-Detroit Pistons grueling rivalry of the early 90’s.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal have patched things up ahead of Bryant’s retirement which came at the end of last season but Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras are not the most cordial after retiring following Agassi’s criticisms on Sampras in his autobiography.
Reports have emerged Chicago Bulls Guard Rajon Rondo has planned a meet with teammates on the Boston Celtics Championship winning side of 2008 after the season.
As noble a gesture that is, the forever emotionally perplexing figure that is Rondo, did come up with a twist as sources say Shooting Guard on that team, Ray Allen has not been invited. Rondo’s reason for not doing so is because his other mates are not okay with Allen.
The former Milwaukee Bucks Guard and Kevin Garnett joined Rondo and Paul Pierce in Boston and immediately won a Championship and made another NBA Final run in 2010 against the Lakers. However, Allen bolted Boston to back LeBron James’ new team, Miami Heat after multiple battles with the reshaped 2006 Champions, who had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, in the playoffs.
His departure was sour though as Pierce claims Allen didn’t return his call before signing with the Heat. Allen’s move did get him another title before going into a sabbatical and eventually retiring. Tonight’s round of games pit Golden State Warriors against Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma for the fourth and final time this season. The game is easily the standout pick of the round mainly due to off court issues that happened in the offseason. On court, there are little issues to spice this match up looking at Golden State’s Western Conference leading performance on one hand and the Thunder’s struggles sans Russell Westbrook. The Warriors are first in the standings but Oklahoma can barely split itself from the Memphis Grizzlies who lie seventh.
However, former Thunder player Kevin Durant’s move prior to this season to Golden State has made this game one of the most watched this season. Like Pierce, Westbrook, according to insiders is hurt Durant did not call to fill him in on his next move and that anger was felt in the first three games and blowing up fully in the third when Durant revisited Oklahoma for the first time in a different jersey. He and Andre Roberson got into a shoving matchup and had a verbal back and forth with Westbrook. There was no love lost between the two; not even combining for an alley oop dunk could get the two stars back on the same wave during the All Star game.
What is key to this feud, has to do with Durant joining the Warriors. Being Kevin Durant, he could have joined any team including his hometown team Washington Wizards but he chose Golden State. The Warriors beat Oklahoma to make it to last year’s NBA Finals in a series Durant should have closed out after leading his side to three wins in four games. However, the epic collapse and sudden jump to the victor leaves a lot of questions on Durant’s state of mind in that series. What irks Garnett, Pierce and Rondo is Allen joined the “enemy” Miami Heat who had been in constant battle with Boston for supremacy in the East.
Ahead of the game, Durant could have absorbed himself from all the pregame chatter by staying home to continue rehabbing from a knee injury. Instead he will travel with his team and might even be on the team’s bench to possibly add another twist to the drama playing out right before our eyes. Taking a page from Allen’s book on joining them if you can’t beat them, only a title will justify Durant’s move same way it did in Allen’s case. With three wins in the bag from this series, another won’t be enough to drum it through Russell’s ear for the relationship to be restored though.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter