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ESPN's Jon Barry: Thunder should get by Rockets, doubtful to reach NBA Finals without Russell Westbrook

ESPN's Jon Barry: “This is a major blow to OKC. The Spurs, the Clippers and the Nuggets, their eyes just got a little wider. What an opportunity now!”
by Mel Bracht Published: April 26, 2013

I know some of the ESPN analysts called Westbrook the second-best player in the Western Conference behind Durant. How would you rate him?

To me he's the best athlete at the point guard position we have in the game. I think he's made improvements. He's probably the best pullup jump shooter in the game. His decision-making has gotten better this year. Look, he's going to take some shots here and there that aren't great shots and make decisions that aren't the greatest. You live with that because for every one bad play he makes, he makes five good ones. You just don't replace him. Reggie Jackson has had a nice year, but this is a major blow to OKC. The Spurs, the Clippers and the Nuggets, their eyes just got a little wider. What an opportunity now!

How do you approach back-to-back telecasts?

I would do one every night. I tell you, doing the playoffs is special. The game goes to another level. The intensity. Every play seems to be the hugest play of the year. I would do them all if I could. I watch all the games. ... That's what I've been doing all my life. To be able to call them is a lot of fun. I wish it was in OKC. That's a great arena to be in.

I know you were in the studio last year. Do you prefer calling games?

Yeah, I do. That something I've been clamoring for for years. You never know what might transpire in that two-and-a-half-hour span. It's a lot of fun. It's great to be out and see a lot of former people I know since I played on every team in the NBA. I always know somebody when I get around.

by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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