Friday marked Russell Westbrook's return to Denver after blocking two half-court shots by Nuggets mascot, Rocky, on Jan. 20, and local media played up the incident.
Denver guard Andre Iguodala was asked if Westbrook, his Team USA teammate, had become the No. 1 villain in the West.
“I'm new to the West, so I don't have as much hatred for guys as some others,” Iguodala said. “I'm a fan of guys who just go out there and play hard, and he definitely does that. He's definitely earned his stripes and he's going to have a great career.”
Does Iguodala have hatred for any players from the East?
“There's a few guys and we still have to see them a couple times this year, so I'd rather (keep quiet),” Iguodala said.
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, who hit the game-winner with 0.2 seconds left for Friday's 105-103 victory over OKC at Pepsi Center, said he has no problem with Westbrook — or anyone else, for that matter — playing the role of villain.
“It's good for the fans,” Lawson said. “Everybody likes controversy. Everybody's going to talk about it. I feel like without that, fans aren't going to have as much fun. They're going to tell their kids about that. It creates a rivalry. You'll definitely hear the fans booing when he comes out. He's now the villain in Denver. It's fun.”
Despite being booed mercilessly throughout Friday night's game, Westbrook still finished with a season-high 38 points.
Asked how it felt to be a target, Westbrook said: “I don't think about it, I just play. On the road, our whole team is a target … not just myself.”
Iguodala was asked at length about three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant, another one of his teammates from the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2010 World University Games.
Durant officially is listed at 6-foot-9, but NBA players and coaches don't believe it for a second.
“He's a 7-footer and he pretty much plays like a 2-guard,” Iguodala said. “He's so young he's still expanding his game. You see the way he's been passing the ball lately, breaking guards down off the dribble at his height just shows how gifted he really is. Not only is he gifted and blessed, he puts in the work. He loves the game.”
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