The Oklahoma City Thunder improved to 3-0 on Wednesday night, with their win over the Memphis Grizzlies. But after the game most of the attention wasn’t on the team’s victory.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had an altercation on the sideline during Wednesday’s game after Westbrook got upset when Thabo Sefolosha passed up a wide-open shot in the second quarter, according to reports. Despite the win, it was an all-around difficult night for Westbrook, who on top of the altercation with Durant, shot 0-13 from the field.
Given the humble nature of Durant, the reigning scoring champ downplayed the issue. After all, this isn’t the first time he and Westbrook have faced questions about their cohesion
on the court. During last spring’s postseason, Westbrook was often criticized for both his shot selection and shot quantity, which had some wishing the young point guard would get the ball into the hands of Durant a little more frequently.
But before everyone starts accusing Westbrook of trying to steal Durant’s thunder (no pun intended) or wants the former UCLA Bruin traded for more of a “pass first” point guard, let’s address the two big elephants in the room. And that’s the inexperience and squeaky clean image of the two players.
Despite their incredibly fast emergence as one of the top teams in the NBA, it’s easy to forget how young and subsequently inexperienced the Thunder really are. Yes, they made it to the conference finals last season, but they are still very much finding out how to win. If Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo had the same altercation Westbrook and Durant had last night, it would have been a non-issue, or possibly not even mentioned at all for that matter. If Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki were seen being a little tough on Pau Gasol or Jason Terry respectively on the sidelines, who cares, after all they are all proven champions. So, until the Thunder establish themselves as champions, small, and likely overblown growing pains on the sidelines will continue to be hot topics of discussion.
Also, given the aforementioned rapid rise of the Thunder, and the gentlemanly persona Durant and Westbrook exhibit, the Thunder are essentially that perfect straight A student we all went to school with, who other students try exhaustively to find faults with. If a disagreement on the sidelines is the only fault we can currently can find with the young duo, then it will naturally be highlighted more than it should be.
Until the Thunder take the proverbial ‘next step’, any sideline dispute between the two will continue to be an issue. But given their bright future and possible decline of some of their conference foes (Dallas, San Antonio and Los Angeles , I am looking at you), the Thunder should be the class of the Western Conference for years to come, altercations or no altercations.
Joshua Sexton is a lifelong basketball fanatic, who watches as many games as possible. In addition, He has played and coached the game at the high school level. He has recently started writing about the game of basketball.