On Tuesday night, for the first time since his fateful knee injury, Russell Westbrook will play against Patrick Beverley, the Rockets guard who incidentally caused it last April.
Three surgeries later, the course of Westbrook’s career has taken a concerning turn, with lingering worry surrounding the long-term health of his knee.
But for now, he’s healthy. And because of that, he was peppered with a few Beverley-related questions at Tuesday’s shootaround, leading up to the showdown between the two.
First, Westbrook was asked if he still held anything against Beverley.
“Nah,” an irritated Westbrook shot back.
Then, moments later, he was asked whether everything was reconciled between the two.
“What’d I just say?” an increasingly more agitated Westbrook retorted. “That’s it. No more questions about that.”
Beverley’s greatest NBA skill is his tenacious defense, a perimeter pest who gets under the skin of opposing point guards. Most recently, his hounding style got under the skin of Portland star Damian Lillard, who called him out publicly.
Westbrook was asked about Beverley’s hectic, sometimes reckless style of play, which some have said led to Westbrook’s injury.
“I don’t care about it, to tell you the truth,” Westbrook said. “Has nothing to do with me. Play my game, worry about my team and that’s it. I don’t worry about his.”
The episode is certainly not something Westbrook wants to reflect back on. But it’s also not one the Thunder crowd will soon forget, with a Ron Artest-level of boos expected to rain down on Houston’s starting point guard during introductions on Tuesday night.