Remote patrol: Russell ‘Wild Thing' Westbrook impresses ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy

by Mel Bracht Published: May 26, 2011

Despite the Thunder's loss in Game 5, Oklahoma City guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden made a big impression on ESPN's commentators, especially game analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, a former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks coach, bestowed the fitting nickname of “Wild Thing” on Westbrook for his exciting and erratic play. After Westbrook spurted through the lane for a layup, Van Gundy said: “When the Wild Thing is on the move, he is hard to guard. That cut was explosive. And that finish was even more explosive.”

He later said Westbrook also had the physical skills to be on the NBA All-Defensive Team.

Game analyst Mark Jackson even broke into the song's lyrics in honor of Westbrook heading into a commercial break. “Putting on a clinic right now. Wild Thing, you make my heart sing. Russell Westbrook offensive explosion. Getting it done.”

Studio analyst Michael Wilbon marveled at his speed. “That's like Usain Bolt speed. I thought Bolt was in Rome, maybe not.”

Van Gundy also said he was president of the Harden fan club. “He's got great pace to his game. He never looks like he's in a rush.”

Van Gundy later noted he needs to become more consistent. “That's what he needs, the consistent desire to dominate. He can be dominant from a playmakers' standpoint and with consistent defense.”

Jackson said Harden should be starting right now, and studio analyst Magic Johnson called him “an explosive scorer off the bench and maybe the best passer on the Thunder team.”

SHORT TAKES

*After the game, Jackson credited the Mavs for “the way they battled” in the face of many doubters. “They put together a team of castaways. They said Jason Kidd was too old, Shawn Marion was past his prime and Tyson Chandler was not good enough. They found a way to get it done.”

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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