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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

Peter Pan was back in business Thursday night. You know. Russell Westbrook. The mischievous boy who can fly and who never grows up.

Westbrook barked at the genteel Thabo Sefolosha, took a shot so wild Scotty Brooks was forced to substitute, blew his stack while being counseled by Mo Cheeks, knocked over a chair and stormed off the court to the comfort of a Chesapeake Arena tunnel.

At the time, Westbrook was playing an excellent game and the Thunder led Memphis by 20 points.

The Thunder produced a 106-89 rout of the Grizzlies that was overshadowed by Peter Pan.

And maybe the basketball world will be better off if we accept what Westbrook is. Part hot hand, part hothead. Uncorrallable, not just by NBA opponents, but by Thunder brass.

“There's no question he was frustrated with himself,” Brooks said. “Russell's an emotional guy … not trying to downplay that. He has to be able to control his frustration. But that's part of it.”

Exactly. Westbrook's wild emotions are part of it. Maybe those wild emotions help make him who he is. Which is a ballplayer so good, he can wipe out the NBA's best of the West the way Peter Pan took care of Captain Hook.

Serenity now? We're past that as advice for Westbrook. That's advice for his team, which has to deal with the fallout of a soap opera every month or so.

Some suggested that the Thunder bench seemed tired of Westbrook's act after he cooled off in the tunnel for a minute or so. I don't know. I couldn't see from my vantage point. But in the locker room, the Boomers were back in protection mode.

Brooks and his boys talked of how basketball is an emotional game, and this is an emotional team, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Except who else turns the tunnel into a decompression chamber? Who marches off the bench during the game, except to nurse an ankle sprain or hit the can?

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by Berry Tramel
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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