NBA All-Star notebook: Russell Westbrook says OKC Thunder feeling the front-runner role

Russell Westbrook on Friday embraced the pressure that now comes with the Thunder being the best team in the Western Conference at 27-7 at the All-Star break. The two-time All-Star said he likes being in the position where every team is looking to knock off the Thunder.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 24, 2012
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Russell Westbrook on Friday embraced the pressure that now comes with the Thunder being the best team in the Western Conference at 27-7 at the All-Star break. The two-time All-Star said he likes being in the position where every team is looking to knock off the Thunder.


“I mean, we was on the bottom,” Westbrook said. “We worked our way to the top. So it's not a bad thing to be on top and be where we want to be at this halfway point of the season.”

Westbrook then said it's satisfying to be at the top of the standings, although it's not the team's ultimate goal.

“It's a great feeling,” Westbrook said. “It just shows that we're getting better. That's definitely a big step for us.”

WESTBROOK STICKING BY DURANT

A popular question at Friday's media sessions for the Eastern and Western Conference teams was, ‘Which player is the toughest to cover regardless of position?'

Westbrook, without hesitation, chose teammate Kevin Durant.

“As a (shooting guard),” Westbrook called Durant, “he can play (shooting guard) through (center). He's probably the toughest you're going to guard. The average (shooting guard) is about 6-5, 6-6. He's 6-10. You're at a disadvantage already.”

When asked which player he'd consider as the league's most clutch, Westbrook also pointed to Durant.

“The past couple of years it's been shaky,” Westbrook said. “Everybody asks that question of who's the most clutch, Kobe (Bryant) or LeBron (James) or Carmelo (Anthony). From what I'm seeing, the opportunities that Kevin has had, he's definitely taken those and knocked them down so I'm rolling with KD.”

Finally, in the spirit of New York guard Jeremy Lin, Westbrook was asked which teammate's couch he'd prefer to sleep on if he had to.

“Probably Kevin's,” Westbrook said. “He's got the biggest house.”

LEBRON EXPLAINS DUNK CONTEST ABSENCE

James on Friday offered a reason why he has yet to participate in a dunk contest at All-Star Weekend.

“It's not me,” the Miami Heat star said. “I'm not a dunk contest type of guy. I'm an in-game dunker.”

James was then asked what if a $1 million, winner-take-all pot was the prize?

“Then I'd reconsider,” James said. “Wouldn't you?”

WILLIAMS STICKS UP FOR WESTBROOK

One day after Bryant stuck up for Westbrook, New Jersey guard Deron Williams became the second All-Star to back Westbrook, who's play has come under fire from national media members and fans throughout the country.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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