“Hey man,” Russell Westbrook said to Paul George as the latter walked into the gym where they were holding their off-season practice session. “You know, it’s funny, sometimes I can’t believe you’re still here playing with me in Oklahoma City and not off with LeBron in LA.”
Paul raised his eyebrows as he set down his gym bag. “You know I’m all about loyalty to my teammates.” Then he continued, jokingly, “Unless those teammates happen to be members of the Pacers, of course.”
Russell laughed at this comment as he launched up another three-pointer, which missed. “Yeah, the Pacers.” But this offhand remark had made him realize that Indiana was not that much different from Oklahoma City, and that Paul could easily request another trade when the time was right. On the heels of that thought was an unpleasant memory of a certain superstar player bolting from OKC to a west-coast championship contender. He had to force himself to calm down and not lash out in anger. Instead, he said coldly, “I know you won’t leave though. I know you’re committed to us. Our team.”
“Yeah man. For sure,” Paul replied, noticing the abrupt cooling of his teammate’s mood. “Hey, you alright?”
Having just missed another shot, Russell ignored the ball bouncing by him to approach Paul face-to-face. “You won’t leave me,” he stated.
“Listen, I plan on seeing this through, I’m not Durant or anything,” Paul responded.
“DON’T SAY THAT NAME!” Russell shouted. “IT IS FORBIDDEN TO UTTER IN MY PRESENCE!” He tried to continue with his warmup shots as normal, but was missing everything. Simmering with anger at the Kevin Durant situation, frustrated with his shaky jumpshot, and fearful of having another star teammate leave him, he decided to take a break on the empty bleachers. After a few minutes of shooting by himself, Paul joined him.
“Yo, you wanna talk through this?” Paul offered.
“Kevin said he was loyal too,” Russell whispered, breaking his own rule on the utterance of that name. “Look how that turned out.” He paused for a while before blurting, “That’s why I have to test your loyalty. Starting now.”
“I just signed a long-term contract, and then you threw a big party at your house to celebrate it.” Paul pointed out. “Isn’t that a good enough test?”
“Nope. Come on, we’re going to my place.”
“I don’t know about this,” Paul said. “Can’t you, I don’t know, make me chug twenty cans of Red Bull until I die of heart palpitations? Or blackmail me with those pics of my Black Mamba that I sent to that chick who turned out to be a dude? Either one of those would definitely prove my loyalty to the Thunder just as well as this would.”
Russell shook his head. “Nuh-uh. You gotta do it my way. For all I know, your Red Bull tolerance is so high that you wouldn’t even feel it. Meanwhile, I know for a fact that you’re gonna hate doing this.”
Paul looked at the Instagram app on his phone. “So you just want me to harass Kev-”
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO SAY THAT NAME!” Russell screeched. “From now on, we will refer to him as ‘The Betrayer’. Got it?”
“Yeah, okay, so I harass…The Betrayer…on Instagram posts to start beef with him?”
Russell nodded. “Right. But you have to stoop really low here. So low that you’re putting your league-wide reputation on the line. It’s a win-win. You prove you’re loyal to OKC, and The Betrayer’s fragile psyche, which is susceptible to mean social media comments, is further damaged. Then we can do Carmelo next for maximum pettiness and sour grapes. Oh, and don’t forget Twitter too.”
Taking a deep breath while staring at his phone, Paul started composing his first beefy comment. “How do we even know he’ll see it?” he asked after typing one word, “Hey”, then deleting it.
“Oh, he’ll see it,” Russell answered. “Keep typing.”
Paul typed for a little while, then showed the post to his teammate for approval.
“Kevin Durant is a pussy bitch who is loyal to only one thing: being a bitch,” Russell read out loud from Paul’s screen. “That’s pretty good man. The next one you should go in on his mom.”
“His mom?” Paul whined as he hit the “post” button. “That’s out of line, man.”
“You heard me. But this time you have to post a selfie with it so people know you’re not being hacked.”
Paul cringed as he noticed that his phone was already blowing up with notifications. He scowled at the camera, took the picture, then attached it to his next post, which took even longer to compose than the first. “How’s this look?” he asked in a defeated voice.
“KD’s mom is so gross that I’d rather have sex with the dude who catfished me. Also KD is a complete bitch. Pic is my face when I realize that loyalty don’t mean anything anymore,” Russell read, nodding in approval. “Man, that’s brutal. I love it.”
“For the record, I think his mom is actually really nice,” Paul said as he posted this one as well. “Not like it matters at this point.”
“Now it’s time for Twitter,” Russell said. “Then you will have proven your loyalty.”