People react differently to personal accomplishments. Some jump for joy. Others shed happy tears. And there’s group that acts as if nothing happened at all. But Russell Westbrook is a whole different kind of man altogether. After notching a historic triple-double of 17 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists in his team’s big win over the league-leading Golden State Warriors, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar gave a quiet and openly hostile post-game interview to reporters.
Embracing his inner Marshawn Lynch, Westbrook answered questions about the game lauding his team’s execution – and nothing more. Until The Oklahoman’s dared mention his tone, that is.
Q: That second quarter run, why did that change the game?
Westbrook: Execution. Thought we did a good job of executing.
Q: Down the stretch, you and Serge seemed to be in a really great rhythm. What allowed you to be so successful?
Westbrook: Did a good job of execution.
Q: (Question about their small lineup)
Westbrook: It’s good.
Q: Eight assists in fourth quarter. What did you see from them defensively that allowed that?
Westbrook: We did a good job of executing.
Berry Tramel: Are you upset with something?
Westbrook: Nah. I just don’t like you.
Tramel: You don’t?
Q: You don’t like Nick (Gallo, Thunder reporter) either?
Westbrook: I love Nick. I don’t like you.
Q: Well you gave us about the same answers.
Westbrook: Yeah. You got another question?
Q: Played a great game. One of your better ones. Is this one of the better ones you can think of in your career?
Westbrook: Good execution.
Q: Seemed like you played with a sense of urgency tonight. Has that been lacking in the past?
Westbrook: Did a good job of executing tonight.
Q: Career-high 17 assists. How do you feel?
Westbrook: Good job of executing tonight.
Westbrook has grown increasingly short with media of late. He used “good win” in lieu of the “execution” trope a few weeks back, and apparently was similarly brief with reporters at a recent practice. And surely we all remember his infamous “What?!” interview from two seasons ago:
It makes sense that Westbrook would have trouble leaving his constantly contentious on-court persona behind mere minutes after a game. Channeling such intensity for so long and abruptly abandoning it is surely difficult, and Russ is among the most outwardly competitive guys in basketball.
But that’s not an excuse for this type of behavior.
Fulfilling media obligation after public appearance after media obligation all while being expected to maintain a focus on winning is undoubtedly difficult, and something we – or anyone else who isn’t a professional athlete – will never understand. It undoubtedly takes its physical and emotional toll, and Westbrook should be commended for always maintaining a sense of self in the process – if he really is a jerk on such frequent occasion.
We just find it hard to believe that’s the case. Giving real interviews is part of the job description for athletes. Westbrook wouldn’t be the superstar he is without the attention media members afford him. He owes at least small portion of his brand success to the very people he’s disrespecting.
Maybe Westbrook just doesn’t understand that relationship, or perhaps we lack the context necessary for understanding his attitude. Either way, this obviously isn’t a good look for him.
What do you think?
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