Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant denied deliberately staring down singer-actress Rihanna, a devout LeBron James fan, in the NBA Finals opener, but his glance in her direction stirred the internet.
Durant scored 38 points on 14-of-26 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists to power the Warriors over James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 in game one of the best-of-seven series Thursday at Oakland.
The moment that seemed to send sparks flying between the celebrity and the NBA star forward came late in the fourth quarter after the ball was stolen from James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry flipped a pass to Durant, standing in front of Rihanna’s courtside seat.
Durant sank an uncontested 3-pointer and as he turned upcourt, swung a glance toward the 29-year-old Barbados-born Grammy Award winner.
Asked about the moment, Durant said, “I don’t even remember that.” Told social media was buzzing about the move, Durant replied, “Really?”
Curry, sitting beside Durant, interjected, “Don’t get into that trap, man.”
“Yeah, I won’t get into that,” Durant said. “I’m cool. Have fun with that.”
Much fun was definitely had.
Some reports had Rihanna heckling Durant before a free throw earlier in the game. But television replays showed it was Rihanna’s long-time friend and assistant, Jenn Rosales, seated next to her, who shouted out “Brick.”
After making the third-quarter free throw, Durant shot a stare in Rihanna’s direction, setting the stage for the later 3-pointer gaze.
It’s not Rihanna has not made her loyalties clear, tweeting an image of her gazing at a huge photo of James holding the NBA trophy in last year’s victory celebration.
Rihanna walked past television commentator Jeff Van Gundy to her seat at one stage, momentarily flummoxing the analyst.
And she made her allegiance clear to spectators by bowing to James at one stage when he rushed past during the game. Rihanna also dismissed hecklers with a wave and a “dab” arm move at another stage.
Durant has tweeted in the past his attraction to Rihanna, saying in 2011 he would wish to marry her. But even with Golden State’s lopsided triumph, Durant’s affections appear to be doomed.
As she walked out of Oracle Arena past the Cavaliers locker room, Rihanna yelled, “The King is still The King,” a reference to James’s nickname. (Agence France-Presse)
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