The popular storyline coming out of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was the benching of Russell Westbrook and his perceived frustration on the bench, despite his obvious celebrations of the team’s success in winning the game down the stretch. ESPN has the scoop on what exactly happened that made Westbrook so upset during Game 2.
In the closing minute of the third quarter of Oklahoma City’s 106-100 victory against Dallas, Westbrook made a play call that his teammates failed to run properly. When the play broke down, Westbrook made a one-on-one move that resulted in a turnover.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks promptly took Westbrook, who had four turnovers, out of the game. Brooks slapped the All-Star point guard on his backside as he walked by.
Westbrook turned around and glared at the court. Then, when Brooks walked toward him and made a comment, Westbrook yelled, “I’m trying to run the [expletive] play, man.”
Westbrook continued yelling on the bench for roughly a minute — saying, “Tell them to run the [expletive] play,” according to the source — prompting assistant coach Maurice Cheeks to console him as play continued.
So something that wasn’t a story two days ago still isn’t a story. How many times have you seen a player express frustration over a blown play call? The Boston Celtics did it about 1,700 times this season and no one’s saying it’s a big deal for the Celtics’ locker room chemistry. Westbrook is clearly a fiery competitor, and it’s true that eventually, he’s going to want to stop being treated as Robin to Kevin Durant’s humble, quiet, and difficult to find due to the lack of space he crates off-ball Batman. But this story is really just one of a key turnover by a young star, and the result being a bench run which encouraged the coach to stick with his guys.
The chemistry on the Thunder is becoming more complex with each element of success they reach, but it’s natural to expect some friction. Let’s not get carried away just because Westbrook had a turnover on a blown play. There’s much more dynamite in the stack than just this.