OKC Thunder: Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook are two of a kind

COMMENTARY — Both point guards in the Western Conference Finals worked hard to become the stars and leaders that they are today.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 28, 2014


photo - San Antonio's Tony Parker (9) puts up a shot from under Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
San Antonio's Tony Parker (9) puts up a shot from under Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Some irony there, Westbrook managing the personalities on the team, since the team managing Westbrook’s personality is a full-time job. But I digress. Westbrook indeed has turned into an elite point guard, in every sense of the word. Witness his 10 assists Tuesday night in Game 4. And impeach all the gooberheads who continue to say Westbrook isn’t a point guard.

In fact, the Parker proctor himself says there are similarities between the evolution of Parker and Westbrook.

“I think that’s a great comparison,” Popovich said of Westbrook. “He was a scorer. He’s still a scorer, because he’s such a dynamic player and so talented. But he finds people way more than people give him credit for. There’s no doubt about that. Fans just see the dynamic way that he plays. But he’s perfectly willing to hit the open man. He knows the importance of it.”

Westbrook being Westbrook, he wanted no part of the Parker comparison.

“I don’t know if they (the Spurs) started 3‑29 like we did,” Westbrook said. “Maybe you can look at it a different way,”

But it’s clearly the truth. Parker and Westbrook have turned themselves into great point guards. Kevin Durant rode shotgun with Westbrook during that maturation, including that excruciating 2008-09 season.

“I think it's an adjustment period for any young player to come into the league, no matter if you were a point guard in college or not,” Durant said. “I think with point guards, it’s a longer adjustment period because that's the hardest position to play in the game. For him just being a role player in college to being a point guard in the NBA, I don't think a lot of people gave him a fair enough assessment, especially because of the time period and how you need to grow in that position, and he's grown leaps and bounds.”

Sounds a lot like the point guard in the other uniform Thursday night. Parker has done exactly what Pop asked of him so many years ago.

“Over time, I can honestly say he’s done that,” Popovich said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way he’s adjusted his game.”

The same sentiment goes in Oklahoma City for another remade point guard.

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.

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 Oklahoman,...
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