Kevin Durant has a whole Nike ad campaign centered around “not being nice.” Russell Westbrook needs no such campaign.
During the timeout break of a hotly contested game in Denver, Westbrook decided to take some frustration out. As the Nuggets’ mascot “Rocky” fired a heave from halfcourt, Westbrook jumped up and goaltended the shot. Why? Who knows. Some men just like to watch the world burn.
As you’d expect, Westbrook got some serious heat from the crowd when the real (but decidedly less entertaining) action resumed. Blocking the shot of the opposing team’s mascot is funny and innocent enough…but not when something free is on the line. You’ve seen how crazy fans go for free items thrown or launched by cannon into the crowd — small children get trampled, elderly women catch elbows to the face — it’s all bad. But there was something more serious on the line when Rocky reared back for those halfcourt shots.
And we all know you don’t mess with a fan’s queso. Westbrook’s treason didn’t even stop with one goaltend — he did it again the next timeout break. Here’s the hilarious footage of Westbrook denying both of Rocky’s attempts from halfcourt:
Funny as it all was, the mascot denials kind of pumped Westbrook up. A few plays after, he responded to the crowd’s vigorous booing drilling a tough long 3-pointer that helped the Thunder take the game to overtime.
While Denver fans may not have gotten their queso, they did eventually get an overtime win, a deal for discounted tacos, and Westbrook with egg on his face after all the barking he did at the crowd over the course of the game. So all’s well that ends well, except maybe for Rocky the mascot, who might be a little more weary of shotblockers on his halfcourt heaves from now on.
The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?
Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:
If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.
The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.
It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.
Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?
The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.
There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.
Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.
What next for Boston?
In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.
Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.
What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.
At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.
And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.