Blog Entry

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:42 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a Russell Westbrook apologist. While the barn was burning down and everyone seemed to be piling on with more gasoline, I always felt like the incredible criticism of Westbrook was mostly unfair.

Some were calling him a ballhog, a selfish player or an egotistical maniac, but I saw a guy that was forced into trying to make plays from his point guard position. People are even asking if OKC should trade Westbrook. I mean, uh, I mean, that's stupid.

He maybe called his own number a little too much and his usage went up from the regular season, but for the most part, he was the same old Westbrook that was an All-Star in his third year and second-team All-NBA.

Kevin Durant defended him valiantly after Game 5′s elimination last night saying, “It’s kind of frustrating to see the kind of criticism he’s been getting because he led us by playing the way he’s been playing now the whole season. That’s what made him an All-Star, second team All-NBA. And it kind of baffles me that people just start to criticize because he’s playing like that now.”

Naturally though, you’d expect Durant to always say the right thing no matter what. Because he's Kevin Durant and that's what he always does.

That’s why I thought this quote from Shawn Marion last night was maybe even a little better.

“He didn’t have any choice but to shoot some of those shots, because we were denying everybody else the ball,” he said. “When you deny everybody else from catching the ball, he ain’t got no choice but to go one-on-one.

“Don’t talk bad about that man, because he’s competing out there and he’s playing hard on both ends of the floor. When you deny people from catching the ball, he’s got no choice but to shoot it. Don’t kill him. I don’t like that. He is out there playing hard and competing.”

That’s perfectly put. Westbrook’s choices truly were limited. He was out of options a lot of times because of horrible, stagnant offense, great ball denial defense and double-teaming on Durant. It was either have Westbrook do something or hoist a terrible shot from 20 feet every possession.

Was it a perfect postseason for Westbrook? Hardly. He could’ve been better. The Thunder needed him to be better. If he had performed a bit more under control and taken a few smarter shots, maybe there’s a Game 6 Friday night in OKC. Maybe there's no need because the Thunder already advanced on. But any team can say that about a young player. What if Darren Collison handled the Bulls pressure defense better? What if Ty Lawson were better in the opening round? They weren't and now they'll learn from it. 

People got a little too caught up in staring at the box score instead of actually watching Westbrook play. Yeah, he took 28 shots in Game 5. But that's what the Dallas defense was giving him. You really want a guy that averaged 22 a game this year to turn down good looks so that he can force it to his teammate that's double-teamed? What sense does that make?

Westbrook is 22. He just finished his third year. This was his first foray this deep into the playoffs. The fact that he was able to hear every bit of that criticism and shake it off says a lot about his mental fortitude. The guy’s a winner. He plays his butt off every single night.

He’s got to progress a little more, learn from these mistakes and take his team a little deeper. Which I think he can do.


Since: Apr 27, 2011
Posted on: May 27, 2011 7:15 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

def has some growing up to do, as do the rest of the thunder, but he's already one of the best PGs in the game.  never understood the hate, he owns. the mavs were just better

Since: Dec 17, 2010
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:03 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

The critics are talking as if Westbrook is a 10 year veteran. He is only 22. Has there been any player whose game was perfect at 22. OKC is a very young team and will learn from their mistakes. If they can keep their core players OKC will be a contender for an NBA championship for a long time. Took a while for Detroit to beat Boston, Bulls to beat Detroit etc. Young teams and players have to learn how to win. 

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: May 27, 2011 4:16 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

Can the Bulls just borrow Kevin Durant for a couple of seasons?  That would be great.  The two humblest, most respectable super stars on the same team winning championships together.  Unheard of.  I say we do it.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: May 27, 2011 3:28 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

The same game 2 that Oklahoma City won?  The one where he watched most of the 4th quarter from the bench and did not complain and then late said "I am good with it.  We won, that is all that matters."?

He is a passionate, emotional player, I will give you that but he will grow into his role.  As far as shooting too much, I would rather a guy make "mistakes" in aggression, than to be flawless in being passive.

Since: Oct 24, 2009
Posted on: May 27, 2011 3:27 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

Also keep in mind here that the guy was basicaly a shooting guard in college.  He has making drastic improvements year by year, and next year, look out.  Its going to be a great year for him, he is maturing very quickly as a point guard, raising his assists every year.  The guy is going to be great.

Since: Apr 8, 2011
Posted on: May 27, 2011 2:38 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

The crtics are morons!Shawn is 100% right! That pretty classy thumbs up Shawn! You don't get to the Western Conference Finals with a "Ballhog". He's young and wears his emotions on his sleave... He will learn and get better. Trading him would be foolish. We will see them in the playsoffs again. 

Since: Jan 30, 2011
Posted on: May 27, 2011 2:30 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: May 27, 2011
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:10 pm

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

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Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:59 am

Russell is a child

he acts like a child. if things are going his way, then great. but in the face of adversity, he acts like a child. slamming the basketball down, could have gotten him a tech in the 3rd. then soon thereafter, he gets a tech. he stomped off the court after the game. he cussed and stomped when he got benched in game 2.

the question here is whether or not he will grow up. he's got a lot of talent, but without the ability to reason through things, he's no help to his team. (particularly at the point guard position) the team is looking for you to lead, not cry and stomp your feet.

time will tell. if i'm in that organization, i just don't want him rubbing off on durant.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:30 am

Shawn Marion: Leave Russell alone

Writers should blame the Mavs for the loss.. They are just better, period! Dirk is too Dirk for them.. Westbrook saw he could take it to the bucket anytime he wanted.. And he did. Something Mavs fans have been wanting them to do for years..  Can't hate on him for that.  However, the Thunder's only win was when he got benched in the 4th qtr... Coincidence??  Or is this team better without him? Sometimes great players do not always make a team better. Too early to tell with this guy.

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