NBA Finals: Russell Westbrook's focus on winning put him in elite company in Game 4

The oft-criticized Westbrook proved with 43 points he has not surrendered this championship series to Miami.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 20, 2012

And the way the oft-surly Westbrook handled the situation was pristine.

Wednesday, he was asked why he thought he needed to foul Chalmers, after a jump ball had restored the Miami shot clock to five seconds (from 0.8).

“Just a mental error on my part,” Westbrook said. He said it without his usual defiance. Said it without his usual disgust at the question.

He screwed up. But he also seemed to grow up.

In the post-game press conference Tuesday night, Westbrook was asked if he felt vindicated toward his critics for his historic game.

“No,” he said, again without emotion, good or bad. “Let me get this straight. What you guys (media) say doesn't make me happy, make me sad, doesn't do anything. It's all about my team and us winning a game.

“I don't have a personal challenge against you guys, and it's not me against the world. It's not the world against me. It's me and my teammates trying to win.”

Westbrook's teammate, Nazr Mohammed, saw replays of the exchange and said he couldn't be more proud of how Westbrook rejected the bait.

And Westbrook took the same mode Wednesday when asked about the historical nature of his game.

“I haven't really had an opportunity to look at that part of it,” he said. “But like I said yesterday, I can't really be too happy about what I done because we didn't win. It doesn't matter.

“There's probably a lot of different guys that put up so many points or so many amount of rebounds, and nobody remembers it. The only thing that people remember is if you won the championship.”

Scotty Brooks, who spends no small part of his media time defending Westbrook, was glad to do it again.

“He cares about winning,” Brooks said. “Nobody wants to have a great game in a losing effort. It doesn't sound good.”

“Obviously you guys know I'm a big Russell fan. I love how he plays … he has a motor, and you can't turn a guy on if he doesn't have that motor. He has a motor.”

That motor revved Tuesday night like it's never revved before. It took Westbrook to new ground. Superstar status. And if that doesn't pay off for the Thunder in these NBA Finals, it surely will in one soon to come.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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