Did you think maybe we were finally done talking about Russell Westbrook? You'd be wrong.
Westbrook responded well to his so-called "benching" in Game 3, putting up 30 points for Oklahoma City that included eight straight points in the fourth quarter to get the Thunder back in the game. In the end, they lost to the Mavericks, but Westbrook bounced back strong.
Controvsery over? Hardly. Via the New York Daily News, one Thunder veteran says that Westbrook has an ego and that's what's interfered:
What undoubtedly fueled Westbrook's fiery response is a sense of entitlement. As one Thunder veteran said, privately, "He thinks he's better than Kevin Durant."Who is this mystery vet? Kevin Ollie? Desmond Mason? Robert Swift? Who knows. And who knows why he felt the need to pass along this information either.
Not only that, but Westbrook has the backing of Thunder GM Sam Presti, who made a name for himself with his drafting of Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008. Presti's micromanagement behind the scenes has caused some friction between the head of the front office and his coaches, but Brooks didn't pay any attention to that when he saw that Maynor was his best option to even the series.
But just that line alone -- Westbrook thinks he's better than Durant -- is going to stir the pot. But when you're an All-Star, a second-team All-NBA player that's as confident in yourself as Westbrook, would you really not think you're better than Durant. Not us in the general public here. We all know Durant is better. In terms of Westbrook, is it really so bad to think that? In fact, isn't it probably a good thing?
Everyone is biased about themselves. Other than maybe your mother, your biggest fan is normally you. Westbrook isn't any different. But that line reeks of ego and arrogance, therefore stirring the Westbrook vs. Durant pot a bit more.
And Westbrook has always played with a chip on his shoulder and an absurd amount of emotion. That's who he is and how he's always been. Westbrook probably thinks he's better than not just Durant, but Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and pretty much every player you toss out there. That's how great players think. They believe in themselves to the greatest degree. Kobe thinks he's better than Michael Jordan, even if we all know that it isn't true.
But here's a fun stat: Did you know entering Game 3 Saturday, Westbrook had assisted on 54 of Durant's field goals this postseason? Why is that number significant? Because it leads the NBA not just by a little, but doubles the next closest tandem (27 for Rajon Rondo to Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd to Dirk Nowitzki). It's not like Westbrook keeps the ball away from Durant here people. Durant has led the league in scoring the last two years and leads the playoffs this year with Westbrook as his point guard.
I'm reminded of the playoffs last year where the Thunder pushed the Lakers to six games. Multiple times in that series Westbrook had a wide open dunk of his own on a fast break but decided instead to drop off a pass to Durant trailing behind him. Westbrook put it simply when he was asked about why he did it. He said, "It's my job to get guys going and KD needed to get going." Doesn't sound like a guy too wrapped up in himself, does it?