OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook and the art of war

RUSSELL WESTBROOK — The Thunder point guard lives in attack mode because it's the only way he knows.
BY BERRY TRAMEL Published: October 29, 2012
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Westbrook says no. That's not what drives him. Says he never listens to the doubters.

“I don't pay no mind to the bad stuff,” Westbrook said. “I tune out every stuff. One day bad, one day good, you never know. I tune it out all and just play. Try to get better each and every year. That's my job.”

Westbrook says he was born with his burning style.

“It's natural,” Westbrook said. “I can't play well without playing that way. That's just how I am. Not nothing I force, think about before the game. It's just natural.”

And the chip on the shoulder? That wasn't produced by analysts or fans or media. That was his upbringing.

“Just growing up and not having much,” Westbrook said. “So now you've gotta work to get something. Championship, you gotta find a way to get it.”

Work. That's what Westbrook does. He works. Few basketball players in history have improved so exponentially every year for six years.

But Westbrook has, from Leuzinger High School in Greater Los Angeles to UCLA Year 1 to UCLA Year 2 to each of his four Thunder seasons. He's new and improved every season.

“Just try to figure out a way to get things done,” said Westbrook, who takes the court with a sword and a shield, ready to attack.

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MASTERPIECE MOMENT

If anyone still doubted Russell Westbrook's credentials for superstardom, they were sufficiently rebuffed in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last June.

Westbrook scored 43 points against the Heat in a 104-98 loss. Remarkably, Westbrook got just three foul shots. He made 20 of 32 shots.

Westbrook scored eight times on drives all the way to the basket, most of them requiring acrobatics at the end. He sank seven mid-range jumpers and two deep 2-pointers. Westbrook dunked in a rebound, made a short jumper and quickly banked in a pass as the shot clock was running out.

It was a mesmerizing performance, considering he also had five assists and seven rebounds. Of the 10 players in NBA Finals history with at least 43 points in a game, only three did so by making at least 62 percent of their shots. Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal and Russell Westbrook.

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