Russell Westbrook staged his own 30 for 30 docudrama Monday night. Thirty points on 30 shots.
Think of the marketing possibilities had the 30 for 30 game been aired on ESPN. Alas, TNT had Game 4 of the Thunder-Nugget series, which allowed Chris Webber and Charles Barkley to lambaste Westbrook, reminding him that he's Robin to Kevin Durant's Batman.
They were partially right. Thirty shots is way too many for anyone this side of Wilt Chamberlain or maybe Durant, and nobody is pretending otherwise.
“Did he take too many shots? Absolutely,” said Thunder coach Scotty Brooks.
So here's what Brooks should do Wednesday for Game 5.
Nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing except to remind his staff that anyone who tries to put a bridle on Westbrook is fired on the spot.
Westbrook is 22 years old. He's still learning on the job. Westbrook is nowhere near where he was, but he's nowhere near where he will be.
“He's going to get better,” Brooks said. “You're not seeing Russell at this level for the rest of his career.”
Derrick Rose is 39 days older than Westbrook and the apparent NBA MVP. Rose has his dubious moments, too, like shooting 5-of-29 from 3-point range in the first four games of the Chicago-Indiana playoff series.
Here are Rose's numbers through four games: 28.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 35.2 percent shooting.
Here are Westbrook's numbers through four games: 26.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 43 percent shooting.
Each of the last four seasons, Westbrook has made a remarkable leap. From UCLA benchwarmer to solid collegian to intriguing NBA rookie to quality point guard to All-Star.
Some say Westbrook plays with a chip on his shoulder. No kidding. Whatever Westbrook is doing, keep it up.
And he's not the Boy Wonder. He's not Rocky Bleier to Durant's Franco Harris. He's John Stallworth to Durant's Lynn Swann.
I know people haven't come to grips with it, but the Thunder has two Batmans.
“He's a star, too,” Durant said Tuesday, defending his partner. “He's shown he can win games for you. You can't be mad at him because he missed a few.”
Westbrook has been vilified for taking — and missing — three 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, all of which would have wiped out a Denver lead.
But only the middle 3-pointer was a bad shot.
* The first trey came with two seconds left on the shot clock and after Westbrook had passed to Durant, who was guarded by 6-foot-1 Raymond Felton.
Durant surveyed the situation, then thinking a double team would come, passed back to Westbrook. The double team never came. “Maybe I should have been more aggressive,” Durant said. “That's on me.”
* The middle trey was hurried and out of rhythm and should not have been shot, though Westbrook launched with just eight seconds left and the Thunder down three.
* The final trey was a desperation heave after Westbrook took an inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left and sped upcourt.
So sure, it would be good to get Durant more than 18 shots. And James Harden more than five. But that's on them as much as Westbrook. Harden did a lot of standing around, with and without the ball.
One thing you can say about Westbrook, good or bad, win or lose, he doesn't stand around.
“Russell didn't play well,” Brooks said. “He settled for his jumpshot too many times. I don't look at Russell's game and say the sky is falling. He didn't have a good game. That happens.”
Brooks said he hadn't mentioned the 30 shots to Westbrook.
“Russell plays in attack mode,” Brooks said. “He's an aggressive player. We don't want to take away his aggressiveness to the basket.”
Westbrook said he hadn't heard the criticism and it wouldn't bother him if he did.
“I'm learning something every day,” Westbrook said. “Learning how to control a game. Out there, ears open, eyes open.”
Is 30 shots too many, I asked Westbrook?
“I don't know,” Westbrook said. “What do you think?”
Oh, I'd give six of those 30 to Durant; 24 apiece. That would be about right.
“You got it,” Westbrook said with a stoic face. Batmans don't smile.
That's OK. He's young. He's got time to learn.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.