Westbrook ‘should have gone to Indiana'
Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart helped Indiana win the 1987 NCAA championship by scoring 17 second-half points and burying a jumper from the left baseline with three seconds left for a 74-73 victory against Syracuse at the Superdome in New Orleans.
While discussing Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook before Friday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Smart had a temporary flashback to his playing days.
“The guy is phenomenal from an athletic standpoint,” Smart said of Westbrook. “I remember one of those days I was an athlete, but never like that. That guy's a phenomenal athlete. … Obviously, he has a gear that he can go to that not a lot of players in our league can do.”
Smart playfully was reminded Westbrook didn't win an NCAA title at UCLA, but he did.
“Westbrook was on the wrong team,” Smart said with a smile. “Should have gone to Indiana.”
DURANT EYING MELO
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, though nursing a sprained ankle at the moment, is considered the front-runner for Most Valuable Player so far this season.
Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was playing high school ball in Maryland when he started paying close attention to Anthony, who grew up in Baltimore.
“Melo's like one of my best friends, man,” said the 24-year-old Durant, who was teammates with the 28-year-old Anthony on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal last summer in London. “People are so excited he's playing so well. I'm like, ‘He's been doing this the last eight years. What's the excitement about? He's scoring 30s and 40s. It's not like he hasn't been doing it before.'
“He's playing well. He's one of the guys that I really looked up to growing up in high school and really got close to him on the USA team.”
Durant said he follows other NBA elite players closely.
“I think I'm the guy that follows everybody,” Durant said with a smile. “I have an ESPN app on my phone I just look at all the scores, especially guys on the USA Team — Melo and LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant) and (former OKC teammate) James (Harden) now. I don't watch the games. I just watch the stats.”