Just ask The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry, who bore witness to Westbrook’s prickly façade during Monday’s pregame shootaround:
Reporter: You think you'll be back to your old self by the playoffs? Westbrook: You think I’m back to my old self now?— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) March 17, 2014
Reporter: It’s been a little rust. Westbrook: Where? Exactly.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) March 17, 2014
As far as pointed questions go, these don’t exactly sound like the offerings of someone looking to poke and prod for poking and prodding’s sake.
Although, from Westbrook's perspective, it's easy to wonder what rust they're talking about, exactly.
|November 3 - December 25||21.3||.424||.309||21-4|
|February 20 - March 16||22.0||.467||.423||5-6|
Russ is clearly frustrated, and understandably so. But it might not have anything to do with his performance: The Thunder are just 5-6 since Westbrook’s return, putting them a full two games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference’s top playoff spot.
After the game while the media waited for the players to dress, a reporter was sitting in a chair in front of Daniel Orton’s locker, who obviously is not here. Russell Westbrook walked in, saw it and immediately called the reporter out and saying loudly in front of everyone, “Those are for the players.” Everyone tried to awkwardly laugh it off, but Russ wasn’t kidding. A PR person came over and asked the reporter to get up. For really no reason at all, Westbrook was just showing the reporter up in front of everyone. A really childish, immature thing for him to do, but at this point, not surprising at all.
Clearly Russell Westbrook isn’t fond of the media, with their pocket protectors and their “journalistic duties” and their totally unfashionable pair of Dockers and monochrome button-down shirts.
And you know what? He can get away with it, because he’s a superstar and no team in its right mind would levy anything more than a wrist-slap for these kinds of things—even if it amounts to treating locker-room journos like disposable Dixie cups.
Westbrook isn’t the first NBA superstar to act outwardly hostile towards the media and he certainly won’t be the last.
But even if his on-court prowess and paydays aren’t affected, the age of instant information and 24-hour news-bytes will assure his reputation just might be.