Thunder members insist their bench “debate” is over, the team has turned the page and so should fans and media.
One of the central figures even pleaded ignorance.
“What happened?” guard Russell Westbrook said before Thursday night's home game against Dallas. “I don't know what you're talking about.”
During a timeout late in the second quarter of Wednesday night's 98-95 victory at Memphis, there were several verbal exchanges on the Thunder bench, most notably between Westbrook and two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant.
“I didn't think nothing happened,” Durant said. “People keep saying we had this and that on the sideline and nobody seen nothing. Everybody on the bench was yelling. Coaches was yelling, not in a bad way but trying to get everything in order. We gave up a few points at the end of possessions and we were trying to get back in order. We were playing a good game and we had kind of slacked off for two or three minutes, so everybody was yelling. It wasn't just myself or Russell or (Kendrick) Perk(ins). It was everybody.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks stressed there were verbal arguments, not physical altercations.
“I think it was a debate,” Brooks said. “To me, an altercation in my world is a fight or a shove, something like that. A debate or a discussion is something totally different than an altercation. That did not happen. I've been coaching these guys for four years and we haven't had one fight, which surprises me. We haven't had any issues that were below the belt that I had to step in.”
Roughly one minute before the timeout, Westbrook shouted “shoot the (expletive) ball” after passing to teammate Thabo Sefolosha, who failed to take and open shot from the right corner.
“It's been said over and over again, arguments happen,” veteran forward Nick Collison said. “It's not an issue with us. We're in this locker room and nothing's changed for us. The hard part is everything that goes on outside the locker room and not letting that get into the locker room with all the talk that goes on among all media.”
The up-and-coming Thunder has been more closely scrutinized the past two seasons after winning 105 regular-season games and advancing to the Western Conference Finals last year against Dallas.
“It's nothing people should be blowing out of proportion,” Durant said. “It happens every single day. Teams go through emotions and things happen. It's a competitive sport, man. Everybody's not going to come in and be happy every single day. You know what I mean? I think you guys should just let it go, man. I know you guys like conflict, just let it go.”