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Thunder's Russell Westbrook draws unfair scrutiny

by Jenni Carlson Modified: May 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm •  Published: May 26, 2011

Another day, another round of criticism for Russell Westbrook.

Shocking, I know.

The latest scuttlebutt surrounding the Thunder point guard involves what he supposedly didn't do after Game 5. He didn't shake hands with the Mavs after they clinched the Western Conference Finals. He didn't stay on the court to exchange pleasantries. He didn't go to the postgame interview room.

Really?

This is what fires up some people?

This is getting out of hand.

Listen, I'm all for putting blame where blame is due, especially when it involves athletes who make millions of dollars a year. I've even called out Westbrook during these playoffs for some poor decisions.

But this blog-based brouhaha about Westbrook's postgame activities goes too far. Most of it isn't fair, and worse, some of it isn't true.

Let's start with what's not fair.

After Wednesday night's game, several basketball bloggers wrote about Westbrook storming off the court without shaking hands with the Mavs. I don't remember seeing any of them actually there at the American Airlines Center, so as near as I can tell, they based their analysis off ESPN's broadcast.

You can YouTube it and see the clip for yourself, but after the final buzzer sounded, cameras cut from one scene to another.

Jason Terry hugging Shawn Marion.

Dirk Nowitzki high-fiving teammates.

Kevin Durant staring blankly at the court.

Then, the cameras cut to the tunnel where the Thunder exited the court. There, they showed Westbrook striding away from the arena. That launched the criticism of Westbrook, who according to some pundits, refused to shake hands and stormed off the court.

Never mind that 26 seconds passed from the final buzzer until that camera shot of Westbrook.

Twenty-six seconds.

Westbrook didn't need that much time to get from where he was at the final buzzer to that tunnel. He was at the end of the court where the Thunder exited when the game ended, and that tunnel is no more than 30 feet from the edge of the court.

I covered all three games in Dallas; I saw it with my own eyes.

Westbrook didn't need 26 seconds to get from Point A to Point B.

Find a stopwatch and let 26 seconds run. It's amazing how long it was. You can do a lot during that amount of time.

Who knows what Westbrook was doing? He could've been tying his shoe. He could've been taking a swig of Gatorade. Or he could've been shaking hands with the Mavs.

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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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