Tag:Durant-Westbrook beef
Posted on: December 29, 2011 7:36 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:15 pm

Durant on altercation: 'Nothing happened'

Posted by Royce Young

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Thunder locker room is typically a pretty fun, loud place to be before games. But Thursday night, it had a much more somber, serious tone to it.

Maybe it had something to do with what happened a night before in Memphis. Or maybe, it had more to do with the story that came out after that game. Which appeared to be the case.

A day after a reported altercation on the Thunder bench against Memphis which led to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook supposedly having to be separated, the team basically did absolutely everything possible to shoot all that noise and chatter down.

Westbrook, who did not speak to the media following an 0-13 performance in a win over the Grizzlies completely blew it off.

"What happened?" he said when asked about the incident. "Oh, I don't know what you're talking about. But we got a game tonight and I'm looking forward to playing against Dallas."

Durant took a similar approach.

"I don't think nothing happened," he said. "People keep saying we had this and that happen on the sideline. Nobody seen nothing. They didn't hear anything. Somebody said that something happened. Everybody on the bench was yelling, the coaches were yelling, not at each other in a bad way but trying to get everything in order. We gave up a few points in that possession so we were trying to get back in order. We were playing a good game and slacked off a little bit for two or three minutes so everybody was yelling.

Reportedly the incident occurred with about three minutes left in the second quarter when Westbrook passed the ball to an open Thabo Sefolosha who didn't take a 3. Westbrook loudly yelled "Shoot the f------ ball!" which evidently led to Westbrook raging on the bench during the next timeout. Kendrick Perkins stepped in to try and calm Westbrook down and then Durant did, which reportedly escalated things.

"It wasn't just myself or Russell or Perk. It was everybody," Durant said. "It was nothing that people should be blowing out of proportion. It happens every single day. Teams go through emotions, things happen. It's a competitive sport man, everybody's not always going to come in and be happy.

"I think you guys should just let it go man. I know you guys like conflict but you should just let it go."

Westbrook's mood was extremely reserved as he was clearly annoyed at the line of questioning he was met with before the game. Durant had a similar tone, but was at least willing to expound on the situation a bit. But it was certainly a different atmosphere than normal before a Thunder game. Maybe that had something to do with the world champion Mavericks being in town, but maybe not.

Westbrook said at the end of last season that he wanted to do a better job controlling his emotions and temper. I asked how he felt he was doing with that this season.

"Okay. I could definitely do better," he said. "But it's early in the year. We're winning. So everything's good."

Head coach Scott Brooks did his best to just pass this off as just the life of an NBA team.

"If you don't have disagreements, that means your team isn't very good," he said. "The game before that I got into a heated debate against our bigs. They weren't doing a good job in pick-and-roll defense. I think it's debate. To me an altercation is a fight or a shove or something like that. A discussion is different than an altercation but that did not happen.

"I've been coaching these guys for four years and we haven't had one fight, which surprises me," Brooks said. "We haven't had any issues that were below the belt where I had to step in."
Posted on: December 29, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:17 pm

Coach Brooks: Thunder altercation was 'healthy'

Posted by Ben Golliverbrooks-westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks says that an extended verbal altercation between his two All-Stars is not a big deal.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reportedly got into an extended "altercation" after Westbrook reportedly scolded Thabo Sefalosha for failing to shoot with an open look during a Wednesday night game against the Memphis Grizzlies

The Oklahoman reports that Brooks believes the situation was "healthy" and not something to get too worked up about.
“When you have an intense game, you're going to have arguments,” Brooks told The Oklahoman. “I have no problem with it. I think it's healthy. I think you learn from it and you get better with it. That's just part of an NBA game. We have it and other teams have it. Good teams, bad teams and average teams. I have no issues with how our guys compete. At times they get frustrated. But it's always about the team.”
Brooks sticks perfectly to the script here. One thing no NBA coach has ever said: "Gee, my locker room is torn apart because my players hate each other's guts. We're doomed."

This early in the season, and given the chippy Westbrook's chippy personality, he said exactly what needed to be said. If there's a legit argument between the two players, it will be become more apparent before for too long and nothing Brooks says now will matter. If it winds up being something that does blow over, then Brooks handles this correctly by preaching unity and backing his two stars.

Using the word "healthy" alongside "intense," "compete" and "frustrated" was a particularly good choice. The most damaging scenario for the Thunder is that the often-emotional Westbrook gets written off as not being a part of the team concept or, worse, he gets labeled a "hothead" who is out for self. Brooks' word choice works to defuse that thinking which is critically important, because Westbrook refused to take questions from the media after the game.

Handling this thing in-house is the best play for Brooks, but his public reassurances need to come with a private reminder to Westbrook of his obligations to the media and his team. Ducking out not only makes Westbrook look bad, it potentially complicates an already tense situation. A one-time allowance can be made given that Westbrook arguably had one of the worst games of his career, shooting 0-for-13, but much more is asked of stars in the NBA. At the top of the list is composure and accessibility, especially under the media spotlight.
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