It’s easy finding faults in Russell Westbrook – the selfishness on some games, the crying for attention with his fashion sense. Now add an on court outburst at Kevin Duratn, Thabo Sefolosha and Scott Brooks. No one seems to really mind it among the Oklahoma City Thunder personnel as long as they keep winning.
Westbrook is arrogant. Kendrick Perkins referred to him as somewhat of a diva. Some great players are like that. They see themselves and the best, play like they are, or at least with that thought in mind, and act like a diva when things don’t always go their way. Russell Westbrook doesn’t care about bad games. He just throws them in the back of the truck and carries on. Criticize him for shooting 3-16, ignoring Kevin Durant and taking tough jumper after impossible shot? He’ll follow that up with the same amount of shots the next game, nearly touching a triple double and making 50-60% of his shots.
Kevin Durant, scoring 27 points and leading his team through his teammate’s primma-donna like outburst, doesn’t really make much of Westbrook storming off the court because of an argument.
It was a disagreement. This is the game of basketball. You have so many different emotions on one team. You’re going to have disagreements. It wasn’t the first. It’s not going to be the last. You’ve just got to know how to respond to each other. I think we always do a great job of that.
Last season, it began with Durant and Westbrook having an argument that resulted in almost everyone calling for the Thunder to trade Westbrook. It ended with the team reaching the NBA finals, and Westbrook and Durant getting along just fine through this season, with the Thunder so far off to the best record in the NBA.
Scott Brook took out Westbrook after he snapped at Sefolosha and Durant because of a 5-second call on him, getting suck on the post. He blamed them for not opening up passing lanes for him.
I decided to take Russell out because we needed to calm down. Russell went in the back. It was nothing. He just had to regroup. It was nothing that has not happened before — not just with him, with all of our guys.
So Westbrook returned, and everything was fine. He finished with 21 points (9-17 from the field), grabbed 9 rebounds and added 6 assists. He was fine when he returned in the fourth quarter, as the Memphis Grizzlies, without Rudy Gay, didn’t do much to stop them in the 89-106 loss, playing in a three guard lineup most of the time.
Great players put bad games behind them and never look back. Russell Westbrook has the potential to be great, although some basic things about his playing style might get in the way of winning NBA titles and getting recognition as the league’s best point guard. What can you do, people like their PGs to be a pass-first kind of player, without the kind of negative intensity Westbrook sometimes brings. The Thunder are just fine with Westbrook, angry or not. They’re not the best team in the NBA this season for no reason.