Serenity-Russ is best for the Thunder

Westbrook didn't glare. He didn't growl. He didn't react negatively in the slightest. It was fabulous.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 4, 2013

Russell Westbrook threw a perfectly fine pass to Serge Ibaka, who bobbled it off his leg and watched it bounce out of bounds.

Then, the darnedest thing happened.

Westbrook didn't glare. Didn't growl. Didn't react negatively in the slightest.

In fact, he clapped.

Yep, clapped.

He offered a little encouragement before running to the other end of the court.

Huh.

On a night the Thunder demolished the Mavericks 112-91, Westbrook had as good a stat line as he's ever had as Oklahoma City's point guard. He had 24 points on 8 of 16 shooting, three rebounds, seven assists, three steals, three turnovers and zero attitude.

It was fabulous.

Those in the Thunder locker room tried to say that Westbrook played just like he always does — “I seen the regular Russ,” Thunder superstar Kevin Durant said. “Regular Russ” — but I promise you, this Russ was not the Russ we regularly see.

In fact, last we saw Westbrook on home hardwood he was having a meltdown. Only four nights before serenity-now Russ appeared, Westbrook stormed off the court early in the third quarter after a blowup at Thabo Sefolosha and a benching by Scott Brooks.

Had you landed in our fair city for the first time Monday night and learned that one of the Thunder players had gone postal in a game last week, you would never have guessed the offending player was Westbrook.

No way.

He was the most calm, cool, collected guy on the court.

“He was focused on getting other people the ball and scoring when he had a mismatch; that's when he's at his best,” said Thunder guard Kevin Martin, who came as close as any to saying Westbrook had a different look Monday night. “He can come down and score any time he wants, but getting the offense flowing, that's best for our team.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Westbrook: “He's one of our leaders, one of our captains. I thought he was good. He plays hard every time.”

Effort has never been a question with Westbrook. Keeping his head has been a whole other matter.

So, can this last with Westbrook?

I have no idea, but for one night, it wasn't stressful to watch him.

In fact, it was sort of weird. We're so used to seeing the scowling and the scoffing and the chip-on-the-shoulder wearing that it was a bit off-putting that there was none of it.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
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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