Westbrook finishes secondRussell Westbrook finished second in online balloting that determined which rookie would be invited to participate Feb. 14 in the All-Star Game slam dunk contest. Portland’s Rudy Fernandez (251,868 votes) won, followed by Westbrook (147,279) and Milwaukee’s Joe Alexander (114,963). Fernandez will compete against defending slam dunk champion Dwight Howard (Orlando), Rudy Gay (Memphis) and Nate Robinson (New York). All four participants will appear in a series of videos on nba.com/dunk.
WEIRD STRATEGYNenad Krstic has had to re-acclimate himself to the NBA routine, a more rigorous pace than the Russian league. Krstic said Stanislav Eremin, his coach in Russia, occasionally refused to let him practice because he was saving the 7-foot center for the second part of the season. "It was only a couple of times, but they don’t play as many games over there,” Krstic said. "They didn’t practice as much over there. It’s good for your body to rest. But for me, I’m the type of player who needs to practice hard to play good. Even in games, I didn’t play a lot. (Eremin) was just doing what he thought was best for his team.”
FORD CENTER VOICEPublic address announcer Jim Miller, a former high school coach who was the announcer for Harrah basketball games, answers a few questions on being the man behind the microphone at Thunder games. What is the most difficult part of the job? "The trick, like participating in sports, is if you’re thinking what you want to say, you’re doing it wrong. That’s what happened to me opening night. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. (Thunder official) Brian Byrnes told me to be myself. It’s been fine ever since. Do you have a patented call? "My calling card is I can change my voice. A few come out during the starting lineup. I use a little Bill Rafferty when I use "Double Deuce” for Jeff Green, a little Howard Cosell for ‘Russell Westbrook from UCLA.’ We have a little safari area in the concourse. When I do a P.A. announcement I try to use an Australian accent, stuff some people might not even realize I’m doing.” What’s been the toughest thing to announce? "I had to sit down with (TV play-by-play voice) Brian Davis one last time before Nenad Krstic played because I heard four different ways to say his name.”
MLK ACTIVITIESThunder players were given the day off Monday, but several were involved in Martin Luther King Day events. Staff members carried a Thunder MLK banner in the silent march. Chucky Atkins and TV analyst Grant Long represented the team at the bell-ringing ceremony at the Oklahoma History Center. D.J. White, Kyle Weaver and Westbrook rode in a horse-drawn carriage during the parade. Damien Wilkins and his foundation, the Thunder drum line and Thunder girls also participated. BY MIKE BALDWIN