Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the top 20 players in the NBA. Last year, they teamed up to reach the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder are the favorites in the West to reach the NBA Finals this year. And three games into the 2011 campaign, the dynamic duo got into their first heated argument of the young season, and had to be separated by teammates.
Westbrook’s frustration appeared to have started with just 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter when he drove into the paint and kicked the ball out to Thabo Sefolosha in the corner. Sefolosha passed up a wide open 3-pointer, which prompted Westbrook to yell at Sefolosha “shoot the (expletive) ball.”
Sefolosha and other teammates, including Durant and center Kendrick Perkins attempted to calm Westbrook down immediately during an ensuing trip to the free throw line. But the emotions spilled over to the bench one minute later.
Durant appeared to again settle Westbrook, but Westbrook appeared to take exception to how Durant delivered his message. The two began shouting at each other and had to be separated.
Not. Good. Westbrook never recovered from the skirmish, and had arguably the worst game of his career: 0-for-13 shooting. Durant carried the Thunder to victory with 32 points.
All seemed well between the pair for the remainder of the game, but it’s pretty clear dating back to last season that Westbrook thinks of himself as an Alpha Dog. Westbrook has the scoring ability to be a No. 1 option, but he’ll never be that guy on a team with the game’s best young player.
As others have noted, Westbrook was the 4th player taken in the 2008 draft, but hasn’t yet received his contract extension. The No. 1 pick in 2008, Derrick Rose, got his extension this month. The Timberwolves are practically tripping over themselves to get Kevin Love an extension. The other top five picks in 2008 probably haven’t earned an extension (Michael Beasley, who is already on his second team, and OJ Mayo, who the Grizzlies have been trying to trade).
What will Oklahoma City do with Westbrook? How much longer until the Rajon Rondo trade rumors surface? Would Doc Rivers be able to build around Westbrook in Boston when fossils like Pierce, KG and Ray Allen are gone?
Here’s Chris Webber tip-toeing around the topic after the Thunder win: