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Friday, May 20th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  60 responses

Russell Westbrook OK With 4th Quarter Benching


by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

One of the lasting images from Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals isn’t Kevin Durant’s hellacious dunk over Brendan Haywood. It’s not James Harden and his beard hitting incredible, clutch shots time and again to help the OKC Thunder steal a win in Dallas.

Nope. It’s the television camera continuously panning over to Russell Westbrook, the Thunder’s unquestioned #2 star, sitting out the entire fourth quarter as his head coach Scott Brooks made the gutsy (and surprising) decision to stick with backup Eric Maynor at the most critical moment of the season.

According to Westbrook, as long as the team was winning, he had no problem watching the action from the bench.

From The Oklahoman:

At crunch time in Game 1 on Tuesday night, Russell Westbrook was missing shots. At crunch time in Game 2 on Thursday night, he was missing in action. Despite logging 0:00 in the final quarter, Westbrook insisted he couldn’t have been happier after the Oklahoma City Thunder captured home-court advantage with a 106-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks before a hushed sellout crowd of 21,051 inside the American Airlines Center.

“When we’re winning, I’m good,” Westbrook said … Several times in his interview session, Westbrook was asked if he had a problem with not being put back into the game. “I’m just sitting there waiting to get my name called. We was winning, man,” Westbrook said. “You all want to ask the same question and I’m going to give you all the same answer – ‘We was winning.’”

“We were making shots,” Brooks explained. “I didn’t want to mess with the rhythm. I usually will sub him (Westbrook) in. Very rarely have I ever done that since Russell has been here. “The decision, really, was (because) Eric was playing well. It had nothing to do with Russell. Eric was playing good basketball, solid basketball for us. We were increasing the lead.” Even when the Thunder lead dwindled from 10 down to four with 1:03 remaining, Brooks stuck with Maynor. “The temptation was there when they cut (the lead) to six and we had to call a timeout,” Brooks admitted. “I believe in all of our guys. Some guys get more minutes than others, but they have to play hard and they do.” Asked how rewarding it was to have his coach show so much confidence it him at such a crucial time, Maynor shrugged it off. “Coach has confidence in all of us, not just me,” Maynor said.

Many consider this to be Scott Brook’s finest hour. His gamble paid off, the star point guard seems OK with the decision, and the coach emphatically won the respect and belief of his team.

It’s not the first time that a star player has ridden the bench in the fourth quarter of a huge Playoff game. Russell Westbrook will have plenty of opportunities to prove he can bounce back as the series shifts to OKC.

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  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Brilliant move by Brooks to sit Westbrook in the 4th quarter. He should be fine for the rest of the Playoffs, now.
    And, OKC should win this series.

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    “We was winning”

    Instant classic.

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    Stay in school kids.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    “We was winning”. I’m not a grammar nazi but it bothers me sometimes to hear athletes speak, or read their quotes…Anyway, it’s about time Brooks asserted himself with Westbrook, though he wasn’t actually at his worst last night minus the rant on the bench… Harden was The Man for the Thunder. Kidd plays awesome D when he’s physically able to. Lastly, I hate Deshawn Stevenson. Always have, always will. Someone needs to punch him in the throat, right on that tattoo.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    ^My bad, Pablasso beat me to it.

  • buddah

    i liked Russell Westbrook better when he was known as Stephon Marbury

  • http://www.walshsportsblog.com Darren

    We thought he was the new Stephon Marbury; turns out he’s the new Jason Williams.

  • Eddie1

    @Zoom you are most certainly a grammar Nazi. Did you understand what the kid was conveying? If yes, then move on.

  • HAMMER

    “Winning we was”. Is it possible this is Starbury/KG Redux? Its felt like it since the 2nd round. Only time will tell

  • reelD

    this kid is to nice to be down on this, his game will shut the haters up

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Hahaha, luv it. my alltime fav quote of a former teammate back in Europe was a similar bad sentence meant with utter sincerity, He (Bosnian, fairly new to the German language)was chucking up a storm during the final moments of one blowout win. Kobe-style.
    Us starters on the bench kept pleading to him to pass the rock, and he ran past us and shouted angrily, “Muss punkten, oder?!!”.
    Rough translation, “must score, right?”.
    We all couldn’t stop laughing our heads off.
    To this day, one of our funniest bball anecdotes.

  • AD

    “we was winning” lmao…… its funny how ppl like to put the blame on em all the time when they lose………. Yes he shoots and turn the ball over alot…. OKC wouldnt be there without him. IDC wat anybody say’s . hes been puutn work in….. He just has to develop into a pass first pg which is hard for a scorer… when i watch their games.. sometimes durant is locked up…. and jharden, maynor might not be producing so westbrook has to take thos shots……if they DON’T RESOLVE THIS ISSUE,,, get ready to see him play in LA

  • r2j

    First time I ever heard a player said he was OK with being benched. Says a lot about Westbrook and Thunder. Know that will be the last time we’ll ever see that happen again.

  • http://pickandroll.tumblr.com/ airs

    westbrook is getting a bad rap, i don’t think its just.
    people said him and KD are feuding, and that was false. and he said he was fine with being benched, but people aren’t going to believe that.
    why?
    oh cuz he shoots too much. thats crazy.
    until he actually says or does something that really shows that he’s only out for self, im giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  • bike

    “the Thunder’s unquestioned #2 star”. Obviously, Westbrook is not an unquestioned star–stars never sit out 4th quarters. The fact he says things like ‘we was winning’sums it all up. Westbrook is not intelligent enough to be playing in crunch time situations. He should only be playing when brainpower does not matter.

  • http://pickandroll.tumblr.com/ airs

    “we was winning” means westbrook isn’t intelligent or the #2 star on the team??
    wow.

  • AD

    @bike u just get mad cuz he gettn millions and you workn at abry’s

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    Eddie, what’s your point? Understanding what someone is saying doesn’t excuse that type of broken English from an adult. And frankly, I’ll stay on the subject as long as I like. If you don’t like it don’t read my comments. You wouldn’t be offended if your own grasp on the language wasn’t as bad as his lol.

  • nathan

    guys you are going way overboard on this grammer thing. what the F*** does english have to do with basketball. Just because someone’s dialect is different then yours, does not make them stupid. Open up your minds to something other then 9th grade english class. Westbrook is to be respected.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    Back to the real topic at hand. It had to kill Rusty to sit on the bench like that but he played that well.

  • Red Star

    Scott Brooks has got some big cajones on him!!
    @pablasso LMFAO!!!

  • JTaylor21

    What I find funny is that DRose can put up countless 7-23 games and no one will get on his case for chucking but because Russ has KD on his team he’s supposed to stand in the corner and wait for a non-passer like KD to create shots for him.
    Talk about a double standard.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Westbrook is on the path to being labeled. He better watch his back because I can see all the signs.
    He’s about to be a bad boy.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    If Rose was on the Thunder, he wouln’t put up “countless 7-23 games” though, that’s the difference.
    And “we was winning”?
    I knew what he meant, so the F what?
    If a black athlete enunciates and uses proper grammar and such, he gets hated on a la David Robsinson.
    But if he talks any other way, he gets called stupid.
    Now THAT’S f*cked up. Let them live.

  • Exile

    Nathan, I don’t think it has anything to do with dialect, but that’s beside the point. Obviously Westbrook is gaining more respect from his attitude than anything he could have done on the court last night. He is proving (as are a number of the Thunder team) to be quality both on and off the court.

  • paul

    Westbrook hit a number of key baskets in the game. But Brook didn’t want to mess with the momentum, and that was a good decision. We all know just how deadly the Mavs are in the fourth quarter.

    Westbrook is luckier than Rondo, who had to sit during the key periods in several games against the Heat, and watch the team’s season get flushed down the drain…

  • JTaylor21

    Oh, my fault. I had no idea your name was Rigodamus.

  • T-Money

    Allen: you know I see you.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uk3FWToczA EJ

    Chicago was winning more games JTaylor, that’s pretty much why.

  • JTaylor21

    “winning more games”, are we still talking about RS success?
    Come on son, we talking about playoffs!!!Both teams are tied 1-1 vs their CF opponents with OKC going home and CHI going on the road. Now tell who’s in the more favorable position.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    Rigo, what the hell does his f*cked up English have to do with him being black? And could you clarify the David Robinson comment. The way I read it, and I could be wrong, it seemed like you were suggesting Robinson caught flack from black folks for speaking English properly.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Zoom – Oh, so if dude was white he’d get the same flack from you? If so, cool.
    But not from a lot of other people. They’d just assuming he’s a lovable good ol’ boy and move on.
    As for David Robinson umm…yeah, he was. You don’t remember now?
    JTaylor – Rose and Durant have played together before. Was Rose jacking up shots on that squad? BTW, Westbrook was on that squad too. And yeah, he was jacking up shots on that squad too.

  • http://pickandroll.tumblr.com/ airs

    you would be right, zoom. robinson did catch a lot of flack for that.

  • http://countdownnba.blogspot.com/ Clay

    What happened to the point guards that passed as the number one option?

  • http://bedotwater.bandcamp.com BE.water

    Will yall quit complaining when some SLANG gets thrown into an interview?

    We was winning. Ive heard that and other things countless times on the street and knew exactly what it meant.

  • AD

    dats da problem evrybody thinks they know sumthn but they really don’t know **** the world would be better if people learned how to shut up

  • bike

    ‘We was winning’. Incorrect use of simple conjugation the imperfect past.

    Incorret Correct
    We was winning We were winning
    We be winning We are winning
    I were winning I was winning
    I be winning I am winning

    See the difference? Incorrect grammer is not the same thing as street slang

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Look the Thunder offense is better without Russell Westbrook. Its an indisputable fact. There defense is substantially better with him though, and that’s what makes him so good. Stop comparing Rose to Westbrook, or entertaining JTaylor’s need to argue about it, this conversation has been had countless times, and has been proven each and every time. Westbrook is overrated offensively if you put him in a conversation with Rose, and that’s just simply obvious.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    dude used the wrong verb.
    95 percent of Americans do it everyday in conversation and in their writings. Some on purpose, most because they don’t know any better.
    Zoom, I would imagine the only reason you cringe is because you’re thinking of the stereotypes associated with black men and our intelligence and worried that poor speech habits will only confirm them. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter what you do and how smart you appear, some folks are still going to believe stereotypes. It sucks, but it’s real.
    And Enigmatic, I agreed with your point, only it’s not black people jumping on athletes, it’s often the mainstream media who jumps on the articulate ones for being too polished or too educated to be “hard.”
    And the inarticulate ones get labeled as too stupid to really understand the game.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    I feel you, Allen.
    That’s why in my original post I didn’t specify that only black people were hating on Robinson back in the day, just said people in general.

  • T-Money

    bike, you’re kind of a moron.

  • T-Money

    however, what has never been explained to me is why journalists clean up quotes from politicians and some entertainers but always write quotes from athletes verbatim.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Oh, you know why homie. You know EXACTLY why.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Personally, I quote them all the same when I quote them. when politician screw up tenses, it goes right into the paper just like they said it.

  • Eddie1

    See what happens when he harp on another’s grammar on a basketball forum? I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that ZOOM is illuminati. Trying to make it Dallas vs. Heat by undermining Westbrook. In the alternate future, we already saw that it was Celtics Grizzlies fool. But you didn’t like that did you. Keep the day. Time fluxes are booming.

    Eddie,
    Written on May 21st, 2035. God bless.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    what in the world makes someone that obsessed with the Illuminati continuously post on slamonline? shouldn’t you be on abovetopsecret or something that has to do with Alex Jones?

  • JTaylor21

    “cry me a river, cry me a riveeer”

  • AD

    @nbk he knows nothing lol

  • bike

    T-money. Since when do journalists clean up quotes from politicians and entertainers? The reason it has never been explained to you is that it never happens. Read something other than the sports page.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Bike should spend more time on one.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    @ Rigo: Umm YES he would get the same flack from me if he was white. A dumb jock is a dumb jock regardless of race. Also, If you can’t see that it wasn’t David Robinson’s proper use of the language that was a source of the heat he caught from black people than you are just as condescending as the white people who assume black folks can’t relate to black public figures who speak English well. The same goes to you Airs. Smfh. And Allen, I cringed because in general I freaking cannot stand how many sports figures confirm the dumb jock stereotype. I know as well as anyone that there are professional jocks from all backgrounds that do the same thing, which is why I didn’t view Westbrooks comment as anything other another ‘dumb jock’ issue. Rigo’s commment was the one who brought the race factor into it, so you are wrong in your assumption that Westbrook’s being black was the only reason I had a problem with his poor language skills. Rigo’s assumption annoyed me because I don’t like people telling me how I view my own people. Everyone has black people so figured out that they can just assume they know exactly why I’d criticize a random athlete, without even a hint of his race being brought up in my initial post.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    I hate the stereotype of the unintelligent black man but I hate the condescending (equally racist) sterotype that we reject those who appear intelligent. This convo didn’t even need to go there.

  • bike

    Zoom makes a pretty good point here. Truth is, some pro athletes (black and white) in interviews can sound borderline mentally impaired (notice I did not use the ‘r’ word). There are NBA players that use the words ‘ya know’ every other word in a sentence. Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin are two examples. Seems like someone in the spotlight, either on TV or in magazines, should be required to get some coaching on how to present themselves. It would be a service to the players and the NBA.
    Anyone remember Chris Washburn’s famous ‘amphibious’ quote because he could use both his right and left hand?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    BIke
    There were plenty of stories about reporters cleaning up George W. Bush’s commentary to make it appear lucid and non-horrible. It was a big debate in the journalism community, and there have been similar debates about athletes, although the new trend appears to be to stop cleaning it up for players, while cleaning it up for politicians.
    Hell, forget about Bush, how often does Obama say “Um” during a speech and how often do does pauses make it into the next day’s paper?
    T_money is perfectly correct about this and maybe you should try looking it up through a Google search.
    Zoom I hate both stereotypes too. I don’t think Enigmatic was using that one, but I could be wrong. I thought he was talking about people in general, not black people in particular.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    The thing is, Russ was actually playing really well for the Thunder last night. He shot the ball quite efficiently and played under control.
    However, OKC was on a role with the bench so Scottie Brooks stuck to it. I think the decision to bench Westbrook had a lot more to do with James Harden than it did Eric Maynor. Maynor played some great minutes for them, but he stayed in the game mainly to ensure that Harden and Durant were taking most of the shots.
    With Westbrook, you know he’s not going to shoot less than Harden–but when Harden caught fire, subbing Maynor into the game ensured Harden as the second scorer on the floor.

  • Will

    These comments far outweigh the actual article.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    I know the “stay in school,” was a joke, but Westbrook actually IS “still in school.” He takes college classes in the off-season, as does Durant. (at least they did a few seasons ago).

  • bike

    Allenp
    I suspect that when SLAM interviews an NBA player for a magazine piece, a significant amount of what the player says gets edited for clarity and content also. When a player says ‘ya know what I’m sayin” 50 times in three sentences, it won’t make next day’s paper either. But politicians, celebrities, and athletes alike all get hammered when they say something stupid on camera or in on the spot interviews.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    That’s not what T_money was talking about.
    He was talking about editing for clarity and grammar, which definitely happens.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    I was indeed talking about people in general.

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