As the result of a controversial collision with Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverly, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will undergo surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee, according to CNN's Rachel Nichols. While the injury resulted from this incident, there was no malicious intent from Beverly that should lead to his being blamed for what happened.
Here is a look at the play in question:
After the Thunder opened up a 40-36 in the second quarter of Game 2, the Rockets responded with a 6-1 run to take a 42-41 lead with 5:41 left in the half. As the Thunder looked to cool the Rockets' momentum, Westbrook dribbled over half court to take a timeout.
Beverly opted to not just let Westbrook get to the corner unchallenged as he went for the quick steal in an attempt to catch Westbrook off guard. Instead, he caught Westbrook square on as the pair got their legs twisted in the collision.
Westbrook returned to the game following the timeout, but he was impacted throughout the rest of the game.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook is "irate" with Beverly.
This frustration has fueled those placing blame on Beverly.
In this situation, it doesn't make sense to blame anybody. Beverly showed no intention to injure Westbrook. He attempted to make a basketball play during the course of a basketball game. Just because Westbrook was likely to take a timeout doesn't mean that Beverly should be expected to stop playing before the whistle sounds.
Was this a dirty play?
What can be said about this play was that it was utterly unnecessary. While Beverly was showing good effort, the chances of him pulling off the steal before the refs awarded the timeout were slim to none. Committing a foul would have been the more likely outcome for Beverly.
Beverly responded to the criticism and explained his perspective of the play:
Pat Beverley: "A lot of people do it throughout the league. I don’t go out to try and hurt anybody. I tried to make a play on the ball."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 26, 2013
More Beverley: "It’s an unfortunate situation. You hate to see anyone like that go out. He’s an All Star, a top-3 point guardin the NBA."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 26, 2013
It's not Beverly's responsibility to make sure that Westbrook stays healthy. If he came up with the steal and finished the play with a layup to go up 44-41, Beverly's play would have resulted in praise because of his savvy.
Westbrook's frustration is completely understandable. There is a great chance his season ended because of the play. Even with a 2-0 lead over the Rockets, the Thunder's outlook is much more grim.
While it's unfortunate that Westbrook was injured, this was nothing more than a freak incident. Beverly is a young player, who just trying to make a play in the biggest game of his life.