In an NBA playoff series where an injury to Russell Westbrook, the James Harden story and Hack-a-Omer Asik should be the main storylines between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, a social media jab has taken center stage while we wait for Game 6.
Don't expect it to rattle its intended target.
Rockets rookie Royce White took to Twitter to celebrate his team's Game 5 107-100 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, singling out Kevin Durant in a tweet that has since been deleted (h/t ESPN).
If you haven't seen the tweet or want to see it again, check out Bleacher Report's screenshot of the jab:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Royce White was trash-talking Kevin Durant on Twitter last night. (http://t.co/HQq5u9pEx3) http://t.co/azJdkqB2dt5/2/2013, 3:16:14 PM
White, who hasn't played a single game this season despite being the No. 16 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, has been a social media star since the tweet went viral, gaining the respect of Rockets fans for helping the cause and the ire of everyone else who is quick to point out his NBA minute total currently sits at zero.
He spent time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Developmental League after announcing that an anxiety issue makes it impossible to take airplanes to away games, and his stint in the minors wasn't without drama, either (h/t Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle).
Seeing as drama has been White's middle name this season, it should come as no surprise that his timeline since the initial post has been must-see stuff:
By comparison, Durant hasn't posted a tweet since April 20—before the 2013 NBA playoffs began.
When you get a chance to jump back to reality after seeing the verbal sparring between White and those who have an opinion about his choice to single out Durant after Game 5, remember that there is still basketball to play.
And that Kevin Durant is still one of the top-five players on the planet.
A tweet from a rookie who won't have the chance to back up his taunt is the last thing on Durant's mind as he prepares to help the Thunder rebound from the Game 5 loss and try to close this series out in Houston.
One such thing will be his play in the fourth quarter.
Although he finished with 36 points on 11-of-23 shooting, Durant disappeared down the stretch for the Thunder. In the final five minutes of the game (crunch-time stats), Durant was 0-of-3 from the field with three fouls, two turnovers and a technical foul that sent him to the bench.
Life without Westbrook has been hard for the Thunder.
Durant must find a way to live up to his lofty pre-postseason goals (h/t Sports Illustrated) after telling reporters he was sick of being second during his NBA career. If he and the Thunder want to have any shot of winning the next two closeout games, he has to play better without his costar to bail him out.
Make no mistake—Durant is focused solely on winning the NBA title.
That's why White's strong words and the end of Game 5 and subsequent tweets will have no effect on Durant, his game or any of the 10 players who will be on the court in Houston for the Game 6 tip. Oklahoma City's season has been about redemption since last June's NBA finals loss, and it would literally be the biggest upset (down 0-3, No. 8 seed) in NBA history if this collapse continues.
Royce White is entitled to his opinion. He's clearly gained some notoriety for asserting it after Wednesday's big win, and Houston management is probably just happy at this point that he claims Houston as his NBA home after his tumultuous non-season.
If the fact that White is the NBA's most overpaid rookie (fully guaranteed salary of $3.36 million) this season wasn't enough, the fact that Durant has not (and likely will not) respond to the Twitter barbs should tell you what your biggest takeaway from this mini-saga should be.
White can talk all he wants, but Durant isn't listening.
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