Thunder’s Russell Westbrook abruptly ends interview after loss to Jazz
By Ben Golliver
The Thunder got clocked by the Jazz on Tuesday and the double-digit loss left All-Star guard Russell Westbrook in no mood for thoughtful reflections on postgame queries.
Following Utah’s 109-94 victory, a figure that represented the second largest margin of defeat for Oklahoma City this season, Westbrook abruptly cut off an interview after taking exception to a question.
Reporter: “Did you lose this game or did the Jazz win this one?”
Russell Westbrook: “What!? No, what are you talking about, man? I’m out, man.”
While not the most original question, it was a fair one considering the circumstances. The Thunder are the No. 2 seed in the West while the Jazz and Rockets have been battling for the final two playoff spots; the Thunder entered on a four-game winning streak while the Jazz had dropped their two previous games. What’s more, Oklahoma City was far from sharp in the loss, committing 20 turnovers, soundly losing the rebounding battle (38-26) and seeing star forward Kevin Durant hit with a technical and flagrant foul. As for Westbrook, he was responsible for seven of Oklahoma City’s turnovers, although he did finish with 22 points (on 8-of-14 shooting), five assists and three rebounds.
Oklahoma City has played at a high level all season, dispatching opponent after opponent by double digits. To be on the other end of that is unusual and worthy of some postgame exploration by reporters. Westbrook’s miffed reaction is no criminal act. The look of disgust on his face is worth a chuckle, but this episode gets filed into the large cabinet of incidents in which he chose not to disguise his emotions.
The exchange, just like the incident two weeks ago in which he left the bench during a game after a disagreement with Thabo Sefalosha, makes you wonder whether a player in his fifth year in the league should be past this type of thing. Immaturity can be a big problem or a little problem, depending on timing and how well it’s managed. To date, the Thunder haven’t yet been meaningfully held back by Westbrook, who is setting himself up for serious criticism should one of his future blow-ups prove to have large repercussions.