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Russell Westbrook's outburst overshadows strong performance in Thunder's win over Grizzlies

Maybe the basketball world would be better off if we accept what Westbrook is. Part hot hand, part hothead.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 1, 2013

/articleid/3750935/1/pictures/1941487">Photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) waits for the ball to be in bounded during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City,  Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) waits for the ball to be in bounded during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Steady Nick Collison even tried to sell us on Westbrook's leadership and said, “Russell in particular has grown up a lot.”

I'll buy Westbrook's leadership skills as far as work ethic and effort, but otherwise, let's be serious.

However, Westbrook's ballplaying is not lacking. Heck, when Brooks reinserted Westbrook to start the fourth quarter, after he was benched for the final 7:54 of the third quarter, the Peter Pan point guard acted like nothing had happened. He played solid, and the Thunder spurted away again to blow open the game.

That's the crazy thing. Westbrook can produce some clunkers that would make the best of us head for the hallway. But when pulled Thursday night, the Thunder led 65-44, and Westbrook had 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, six rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Durant defended Westbrook but also said the squad “talked it out” in the locker room and didn't let it fester. That's good.

“Russell is such an emotional player,” Durant said. “I knew he'd be back. That's how he is. We want everybody to be themselves.”

That's good. I like that. That's the best advice the Thunder can receive.

Quit trying to change Russell Westbrook. Don't even defend him. Just accept him for who he is. The boy who can fly and never grows up.

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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