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Russell Westbrook has a chip on his shoulder — and hold the queso

Oklahoma City's All-Star guard plays with a chip on his shoulder. He struts around the court. He does things that no one else has even thought of attempting. And that's just how Thunder fans like him.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 21, 2013

Russell Westbrook snagged the loose ball and heaved it toward the goal in the final frantic seconds at Denver.

The shot never got above his waist.

Swatted away.

Can you say karma?

On Sunday night when the Thunder point guard became Public Enemy No. 1 in the Mile High City, he swatted away not one but two halfcourt shot attempts by ... wait for it ... the Nuggets' mascot.

Yes, the mascot.

And I don't get the feeling like Westbrook regrets it in the least. He's embarking on a West Coast swing that will pit him against Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Isaiah Thomas and Steve Nash. Here's betting a little extra mojo will come in handy, even at the expense of a giant stuffed animal.

Let me set the scene.

During each Nuggets home game, SuperMascot Rocky shoots backward halfcourt shots during one fourth-quarter timeout. Thunder mascot Rumble has been known to attempt — and make — a few of those shots. The only difference is that when Rocky makes one of his shots, Nuggets fans in attendance receive a free order of queso from fast-food Mexican chain Qdoba.

Apparently, that promotion has become the most popular timeout bit that the Nuggets do.

I mean, who doesn't love free cheese?

Back to Sunday night.

Rocky attempted and missed several backward halfcourt shots, and he only had time for one more. The shot looked to be going in when Westbrook, who'd just broken the Thunder huddle, came out of nowhere, jumped in front of the rim and grabbed the ball.


Clearly, it was on the way down.

The Denver fans went ballistic. They booed Westbrook then and pretty much every time he touched the ball afterward.

His response?

He goaltended Rocky a second time.

Yep, after the mascot got that first shot thwarted, he went out there for a re-do. And sure as anything, Westbrook broke out of the huddle as the timeout ended, jumped in front of the rim and grabbed the ball.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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