Be careful about reading too much into this — good teams with competitive players have fights on the sideline.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had one of those during the second quarter of the team’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday and had to be separated by teammates, according to the Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry.
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.
That all happened off camera, but during the rest of the game the two seemed to have no problem on the court.
Westbrook was likely frustrated in part because of his play — he ended the night 0-for-13 shooting from the field and was generally not his effective self. He did not speak to the media after the game.
Durant did talk to the media and downplayed the incident. Here is his quote, via Royce Young of Eye on Basketball.
“We’re going to disagree sometimes, like I’ve always been saying,” Durant said after the game. “But I’m behind him 110 percent, and he’s the same way with me. And you seen when we came on the floor we clicked and everything started to work from there.”
It happens, and with the win the two likely will shake hands and move on. But there remains an undercurrent of tension between the two stars of this team that comes out in stressful times, and we have questions about Westbrook’s maturation as a player and a star on this team. As a leader. Durant leads by example, Westbrook seems to get frustrated and lose it sometimes. Not a huge issue, but something to monitor for Thunder fans and front office types.