The Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs have been two of the top teams in the NBA's Western Conference over the past few years. However, NewsOK.com reported on Dec. 21 that Thunder star Kevin Durant does not consider them one of Oklahoma City's rivals.
It was not an insult to the Spurs either, because Durant said he feels the Thunder have no rivals. Sure, when they were known as the Seattle Super Sonics, they had a few rivals, including a border rival in the Portland Trail Blazers. However, Durant said an NBA team does not have a true rival until they meet in consecutive playoff series against each other.
He explained that players and coaches move so often in the NBA, that it is hard to maintain a heated rivalry with any team.
While Durant may not consider the Spurs a true rival, the fact that they have fought for the top playoff spot three years in a row now makes them the closest the Thunder have to an honest-to-God rival.
Of course, to break it down even further, Oklahoma City has the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets as divisional rivals, but neither team has had a prolonged challenge to the Thunder. It looked like Denver might, but they have fallen off since firing George Karl.
When Seattle moved to Oklahoma City, it looked like the Dallas Mavericks might be a perfect border rival to the Thunder, but Dallas has not been truly competitive in a few years now. It also looked like the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder could build a rivalry with Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant the face of the battles, but the Lakers have also disappeared from competition for two years now.
If the playoffs is where Durant judges that rivalries are built, they beat lost to the Lakers in their first postseason appearance, beat Denver and Memphis before losing the Dallas the next year, beat Dallas, the Lakers and Spurs before losing to the Miami Heat in the Finals, and then last year beat Houston and lost to Memphis.
That gives them two shots at the Lakers (1-1), two shots at Dallas (1-1) and two shots at Memphis (1-1). Maybe if they meet Houston again this year, with James Harden leading the way, a rivalry might form for Durant.
When Russell Westbrook was asked the same question, he simply said that he has a rivalry with every team in the NBA.