NORMAN — In the closing seconds of Game 5, Kevin Durant took a seat, not on the Oklahoma City bench or even at the scorers table.
The NBA’s MVP chose to sit down on the far end of the court as teammate Russell Westbrook was at the free throw line. With the Thunder trailing by two and only 6.4 seconds remaining, it was the definition of crunch time and Durant couldn’t bear to watch.
It wasn’t until Westbrook sank all three foul shots and Oklahoma City came up with a defensive stop on all-world point guard Chris Paul to end the game that Durant released a flood of emotions and picked Westbrook up in the air as they both screamed.
This is how the Thunder have been since the team has been formed around its young stars. They have become the posterboys for a team that wears its emotions on its sleeves.
“We have an emotional group of guys,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I’ve understood that from Day One.”
No player gets criticized as much for allowing emotions to take over the game as much as Westbrook. Whether he has a beef with another player or thinks a referee has slighted him, he often reacts in ways that could be more detrimental than beneficial toward the outcome.
In Game 5, Westbrook saw that Durant was having an off day and he took over the game until Durant was able to join the party late in the contest.
“He’s fierce and he’s fearless and he’s a winner,” Brooks said. “There’s nothing else you can say other than those three things. That’s who he is. The guy competes for his team every single night. He practices the way he plays. His success derives from all the work he puts in. One thing I love about Russell, he competes every single night.”