Russell Westbrook turns kid touching him in-game in Denver into a great teaching moment
Westbrook wanted the kid to know you can't just go around touching people you don't know
No one has ever accused Russell Westbrook of not being expressive. On Tuesday in a loss against the Nuggets in Denver, Westbrook had a visible reaction to a young fan touching him when he got near the sideline. Westbrook leaned down, gave the kid a little pat, and ran off.
The kid and his dad looked a bit confused when he ran off, with Nikola Jokic overseeing the situation.
While Westbrook was nice about it, it turns out he wanted the kid to know you can't just be touching random players when they're near the sideline.
"He hit me," Westbrook said after the game, via The Oklahoman's Maddie Lee. "So I told his dad, be careful man you can't have your son just hitting random people. I don't know him, he don't know me. So I just let him know ... You just gotta control your kids. It's that simple ... Watch the game ... Have fun, enjoy."
Westbrook added that fans have a bit too much freedom courtside.
"For all the fans though, there's too much leeway for the fans to be able to touch the players and get away with it," Westbrook added. "We can't react. You know, do what we need to do to protect ourselves. So it's important to understand -- kids, whoever it is -- dad, moms, they can say what they want as long as it's respectful. But the touching to me is off-limits.
Westbrook added that he didn't know it was a kid until he turned around.
Needless to say, the NBA never wants another Malice at the Palace situation, and it's unlikely players would let that happen again. With that being said, the league may well implement some kind of policy against fans touching players as a precautionary measure in the wake of Westbrook's comments. Last year, Westbrook got into a verbal altercation with a Jazz fan who after the Thunder's Game 6 loss to Utah, so this type of thought isn't new to him.
Either way, Westbrook handled this situation well. Taking something that clearly visibly annoys him and turning it into a teaching moment is a veteran way to handle it, especially given Westbrook's look of annoyance when he first turned around.
On Wednesday's "Off the Bench" podcast, Raja Bell and guest host Tommy Tran talked about Westbrook's encounter with the young fan. Bell said that Westbrook is in the right for what he said, not only about players' safety, but also for the fans'. Professional athletes are always flying around on the sidelines, all it takes is one wrong turn for someone to get hurt. Bell added that it was the right move to say that kids' parents are responsible for their safety.
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