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Berry Tramel  


Oklahoma City Thunder: Translating Russell Westbrook

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm •  Published: May 10, 2013

Russell Westbrook was charming and insightful through his 17-minute press conference Thursday morning. You know. Unlike anything we’ve ever seen from Westbrook, as I wrote for the Friday Oklahoman, which you can read here.

But that doesn’t mean Westbrook went all that off script from the Thunder’s sanitized version of how to address the public. Kendrick Perkins talks straight; everyone else in Thunderville hedges everything.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few things Westbrook actually said and what he meant:

 Did you know immediately something was wrong?

What he said: “Kind of. Kind of sort of. Not a hundred percent, but it definitely felt a little different than usual. But at the same time I was still trying to help my team win the game and go out there and compete.”

What he meant: Rumble and all his minions couldn’t have dragged Westbrook off the court after that collision with Patrick Beverley.

How difficult was it to make the decision to shut it down for the season?

What he said: “It’s tough, man. I don’t want to let my team down. I want to compete. I love playing. I want to play in every game as long as I’m able to and able to walk. But this time I wasn’t able to walk and run like I was supposed to.”

What he meant: Westbrook didn’t make the decision. The decision was made for him.

Did you feel like you could play through anything?

What he said: “It’s tough. If I’m able to play and able to move around, I’m going to play in the game. During this time it was tough for me to kind of sit back and weigh my options on what I wanted to do moving forward.”

What he meant: Heck, yeah. I always have.

How hard has it been for you to have to watch the team play?

What he said: “It’s tough, man. But as a point guard and a leader of this team, my job is to find a way where I can help my teammates, the coaching staff and the organization. They’ve been a big supporter of me. And my job is to give it back. Help them out as much as I can and give my input.”

What he meant: Have you ever been blindfolded, and placed in a totally dark room, and then been told to find a jellybean on a floor littered with M&M’s? It’s harder than that.

How have teammates tried to keep your spirits up?

What he said: “Just keeping it normal. I think my teammates and, like I said, the fans and the organization has done a great job of keeping it normal. Sending their thoughts and prayers. My teammates definitely, every day always checking on me, which is a great thing.”

What he meant: I hate having to be taken care of. I’m used to taking care of these guys, on the court.

Have you had a chance to see the play? Do you have any thoughts on whether it was dirty or a basketball play?

What he said: “I’ve seen it numerous times. That’s really something I can’t answer. I just hope it wasn’t a dirty play.”

What he meant: Patrick Beverley, watch your back.

Coach McHale had a lot of nice things to say about you right after the injury. Did anyone else from the Houston team reach out to you? Did Patrick Beverley say anything to you?

What he said: “Um, nope. Just James (Harden). James texted me, and that was it.”

What he meant: No, can you believe it? That dude knocked me out of the playoffs and didn’t even said a get-well card.

What’s been the most surreal or weirdest moment in all of this?

What he said: “Waking up from surgery. Nothing much. (laughs). But waking up from surgery was a little weird, because I can just remember going to the hospital and then I just remember my mom sitting there when I woke up. That’s the only thing that hits you, like ‘dang, I’m sitting in this bed with this surgery and my knee is messed up and I really can’t do much.’”

What he meant: Reggie Jackson playing point guard in the final two minutes of both Memphis games.

Of all the nasty falls you’ve taken and all the nasty spills and all the contact you’ve taken, to go down like this?

What he said: “Yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s definitely disappointing. But it’s part of sports. It’s kind of things that happen in sports and it’s unfortunate. But at the same time, it’s also a time for me to find a way I can do other things. To find a way I can help in other ways.”

What he meant: Of all the gin joints in all the world…

Will you rehab in Oklahoma? You’ve always gone back home.

What he said: “Yes, I’ll rehab here in Oklahoma and try to find a way to get back.”

What he meant: I tried but failed to get the Thunder to move the training facility to Huntington Beach.

Did you have a wide range of emotions? When it first happened you were obviously angry. How long until the anger wore off and reality set in?

What he said: “During the game, like I said, I’m a competitive guy and things like that happen. And at the time, I knew something was wrong with my knee because it felt weird. At the time, it was kind of painful. But I kind of just went through it and played throughout the game.”

What he meant: Check back with me in 2066.


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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