Report: Westbrook Benched for Botched Play

by May 21, 2011

by Ryne Nelson

After sitting the entire fourth quarter of Game 2 in Dallas, Russell Westbrook‘s been surprisingly collected. After the game, the Second-Team All-NBA PG said, “I’m just sitting there hoping to get my name called.”

The Thunder guard’s volatile psyche is both his worst demon and best friend—propelling him to seemingly impossible feats and immature fits. He understands this and importantly, he implicitly trusts his coach and teammates.

Westbrook’s calm reaction—”we was winning.”—is a testament to his growth, not his immaturity, as many have misconstrued him for after his tirade.

Now, a source brings us details about Westbrook’s benching at the end of the third. It’s an insight into one of the more complex minds in the L.

Russell Westbrook’s angry bench tirade late in the third quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night stemmed from a botched play, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident.

In the closing minute of the third quarter of Oklahoma City’s 106-100 victory against Dallas, Westbrook made a play call that his teammates failed to run properly. When the play broke down, Westbrook made a one-on-one move that resulted in a turnover.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks promptly took Westbrook, who had four turnovers, out of the game. Brooks slapped the All-Star point guard on his backside as he walked by.

Westbrook turned around and glared at the court. Then, when Brooks walked toward him and made a comment, Westbrook yelled, “I’m trying to run the [expletive] play, man.”

Westbrook continued yelling on the bench for roughly a minute — saying, “Tell them to run the [expletive] play,” according to the source — prompting assistant coach Maurice Cheeks to console him as play continued.

Eric Maynor’s excellent play made benching Westbrook palatable, and the eventual win cured most ills from the matter.

But the situation was a perfect picture of the understanding and trust on the Thunder sidelines. Westbrook will have his emotional outbursts, but that won’t change anything: The Thunder are in it together to win nothing less than a Championship.