The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

May 8, 2014

Defending Westbrook

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook seems to be one of those people who is a lightning rod for controversy. Whether it’s warranted or not, every move the Oklahoma City point guard makes is put under a microscope and dissected.

Kevin Durant even brought it up during his MVP speech.

“A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player. I’m the first to have your back, through it all,” Durant said. “Just stay the person you are. Everybody loves you here.”

The latest dust-up involves what Westbrook does when he isn’t on the court. Those who watch the Thunder play may have noticed that during time-outs he tends to wander off down the bench while the rest of the team huddles up.

While this is unusual, Westbrook said it’s not a big deal.

“Most the times, I’m out the game,” Westbrook said. “Secondly, it’s to take a deep breath, free my mind, collect my thoughts and see what I got to do to help my team. Then I usually come back to the huddle.”

When Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked about Westbrook’s stress relieving technique, he had no issues with it.

“There are some times when he’s not in a game, he can be doing certain things like putting a heat pack on,” Brooks said. “One thing about all our guys, we’re always engaged, we’re always cheering for each other. That’s the last thing I’m worried about is our guys being engaged. Every player has a superstition. We all did. Mine was the last timeout in the fourth quarter I started stretching because I was about to play. They are making a big deal out of Russell doing that. But he does that all the time.”

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