Russell Westbrook's "Next Question" Answers Continue To Draw Ire
Thunder G Russell Westbrook's postgame behavior with the media continues to garner reactions from those covering the NBA. NBA TV's Leigh Ellis called Westbrook's "next question" answers "petty," and said Westbrook is "showing no respect whatsoever to the questions that are fair questions and holding onto that grudge." Ellis: "It reflects badly not only on him but the entire organization." NBA TV's Tas Melas said Westbrook's attitude is "dangerous" because the NBA is "very popular because the players are very accessible." Melas added if players decide that they "don't want to talk and are petty and just don't want to do that part of the job, that could lead to people not loving the NBA as much as they do." NBA TV's J.E. Skeets said the situation is an "embarrassing look" for Westbrook and the Thunder organization ("The Starters," NBA TV, 4/22). ESPN's Byron Scott noted Westbrook is the "face of a franchise" and his act is "sending a bad message." He said it is part of a player's job to "answer questions" ("The Jump," ESPN, 4/22). ESPN's Clinton Yates: "This makes the league look bad. Petty is what the league traffics in, and this is very much petty in the highest form." But ESPN's Tony Reali said, "What's a priority for the NBA is for things to go viral, things to be entertaining" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/22).
ON THE OTHER HAND...: The Ringer's Bill Simmons said of Westbrook, "It's really bad behavior but that's one thing. On the other hand, I don't really care because those press conferences are so inane and they're such a waste of time that I kind of agree with him, like, 'I don't want to f---ing be here.'" Simmons added, "I hated the 'next question' stuff that Westbrook was doing, but I also hated the reaction. People are like, 'Hey, they're just trying to do their job.' What's their job, to get a terrible answer from Westbrook, who's never going to say anything?" ("The Bill Simmons Podcast," THERINGER.com, 4/22). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said he does not believe Westbrook's behavior should result in a new league-wide policy because Westbrook is a "wild card, he’s a rebel." Wilbon: "His brand is enjoyed by people who want him to say, ‘Next question.’ ... I don’t want to get upset about players when it’s basically Russell Westbrook we’re talking about" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/22).
SILVER LINING? The majority of Westbrook's animosity is aimed at Berry Tramel, a columnist for The Oklahoman, and during an ESPN Radio appearance last night, Tramel wondered if NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern would have a better handle on Westbrook than current commissioner Adam Silver. ESPN's Mike Golic said, “David Stern would drop a hammer quicker than Adam Silver, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But what would even David Stern do? David Stern may have a stern talking to with him, but do you really think that will make Russell Westbrook go, ‘You know, you’re right. I'm going to mellow out and answer his questions?’ I don't think it would happen" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 4/23).