Last night, Russell Westbrook picked up a bad technical late in the game against Houston and the Thunder lost by a point.
It was really just an awful series of events for OKC’s All-Star point guard. He lost his cool with Goran Dragic, turned it over twice and missed a free throw. And again, the Thunder lost by a point, blowing an 11-point lead.
But Westbrook compounded things by not addressing the technical foul or the incident with Dragic. He just straight up ignored the question, eventually walking out while someone else asked it again. Not a fan of this act. I mentioned it in last night’s recap, but I also wrote a long thing about it at CBSSports.com. Allow me to blockquote myself:
It’s precisely these type of things why Russell Westbrook is often the Thunder’s scapegoat. He makes himself an easy target. While Durant can do no wrong, nobody runs to defend Westbrook. Durant always says the right thing, no matter the situation. Westbrook — and I say this as someone that is a full-blooded Westbrook apologist that thinks the guy doesn’t get near enough credit for OKC’s success — chooses to make enemies. He carries that chip on his shoulder off the court and doesn’t do himself any favors in the court of public opinion. He might not care and more power to him if he doesn’t, but it’s not hard to just answer a question.
If you find everything I’ve ever written on Westbrook, you’ll see I’ve defended the guy to the death. I truly believe the guy’s one mission in life is to win and be a good teammate. That’s it. He’s not selfish, he doesn’t want the spotlight, he doesn’t want to be an alpha dog. He just wants to win basketball games.
But he alienates even his biggest fans, like me, when he acts that way. It’s hard to stand on an island and defend the way he plays and try and convince people he’s really a cool dude. And it’s even harder to make people believe he’s a point guard that can lead the Thunder to a championship when the lasting image of Westbrook is either an emotional outburst or an immature stunt with the cameras rolling.
Pretty much everyone that hasn’t spent a week around the Thunder think Westbrook and Durant don’t get along. And why wouldn’t they? Because the Russell Westbrook they’re privy to seeing is one that answers questions in one word, ignores others and isn’t exactly an inviting personality. While Durant never has a missed step, a slip of the tongue and says the type of things that make a writer’s heart melt, Westbrook comes off as the cold, angry and almost mean bad guy. To an outsider, it makes sense to wonder why in the world Durant would like Westbrook. Because that’s the public image. That’s the perception. That’s the Westbrook people see.
It’s no coincidence that controversy seems to follow Westbrook around. There’s no vendetta again him. It’s just that he makes things difficult for himself. I appreciate the way he plays. I love the intensity, the fire, the emotion. I eat that stuff up. But there has to be a separation of church and state. He can’t carry it off the floor with him.
And he can’t go getting a dumb technical foul with 48 seconds remaining in a four-point game either.