Russell Westbrook gets off bench, lightly pushes taunting Nick Young (video)

5 Comments

Zaza Pachulia‘s fall onto Russell Westbrook, which Westbrook called dirty, drew the most attention in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder on Saturday.

But it wasn’t the only tense and controversial moment involving Westbrook.

Nick Young made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter then turned toward Oklahoma City’s bench to celebrate. Like many of his teammates sitting on the bench, Westbrook stood up for the stoppage. But Westbrook dashed toward Young and lightly pushed him on the back.

This wasn’t a shove. It was barely a push. It was just a frustrated Westbrook – his team trailed by 18 at that point and lost by 32 – telling Young he’s not welcomed in that area.

It didn’t escalate into anything more, but this is also the type of thing that easily could. In a league where a player leaving the bench for any reason during an altercation draws a one-game suspension, the NBA could crack down on a player leaving the bench to start an altercation – even if it ended at the first push, even if that push was light, even if it coincided with a stoppage.

The penalty needn’t be harsh. A technical foul is probably more appropriate than a fine, and a suspension would be overkill. But it’s probably best to make clear this is unacceptable.