HoopsHype Russell Westbrook rumors

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April 7, 2015 Updates

When he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game back in February, Russell Westbrook received a brand new Kia SUV as part of the car manufacturer's sponsorship deal with the league. That's a neat little ancillary benefit of winning the MVP, of course, but a free car doesn't really move the needle that much for a well-heeled, highly-paid guy like Westbrook — or, at least, not nearly as much as it would for someone who doesn't make $15.7 million a year. So the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard decided to give it to somebody for whom it would move the needle. Yahoo! Sports

"Young basketball stars today are ingrained in culture and fashions and life in a way that the stars from other sports here are not," said Darren Rovell, who covers the business of sports for ESPN. "People talk about Russell Westbrook's glasses and Dwayne Wade's shoes. When you look at the numbers in terms of most Twitter and Instagram followers, the NBA blows other sports away." Washington Post

April 6, 2015 Updates
April 5, 2015 Updates

James Harden scored 41 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-112 on Sunday. Harden and Westbrook, the league's top two scorers, both entered the game averaging 27.5 points. Harden made 12-of-22 shots and 6-of-9 3-pointers before fouling out with 33 seconds left. The Rockets hung on to win for the seventh time in eight games. Westbrook finished with 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. It was his 11th triple-double of the season and the 18th of his career. Enes Kanter added 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, who lost their third straight. Their lead over New Orleans for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference was cut to a half-game. USA Today Sports

April 4, 2015 Updates
April 1, 2015 Updates

Westbrook squeezes himself into a third-grade chair at Eugene Field Elementary School and reflects on the hotly contested race for the trophy he has eyed since training camp. “It’s been one of my main goals all season,” he says. “I want it.” There are more predicable candidates, but he continues undaunted in his pursuit of the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. He may have a better shot at MVP, but before rejecting his Kennedy candidacy based on postgame interviews Marshawn Lynch would find chilly, consider that Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation has created reading rooms at three Oklahoma City elementary schools this season and launched a reading challenge in which students from 78 local schools compete to read for the most minutes. Sports Illustrated

But if you ask Scott Brooks, or any teammate, the raw numbers don't tell the story. The development that draws the raves is his leap in maturity and leadership, stepping out of the shadows as a brooding loner whose competitive spirit sometimes got the best of him. Maybe it's because of a humbling 2013 in which the previously indestructible Westbrook went through three knee surgeries, missing the postseason and then 36 games the following season. Or maybe it's just natural maturation. ESPN.com

March 28, 2015 Updates

Kerr was asked for his thoughts on the league's hotly contested MVP race entering the final weeks of the regular season. "For the record," Kerr answered with a blank expression, "I would vote for Russell Westbrook." All within earshot froze. Faces frowned. Necks jerked. ESPN.com

Kerr quickly ended the madness before anyone could think to check if anyone had spiked the barbeque sauce on the Warriors' postgame meal spread. The prankster was in full postseason form. "Didn't somebody else just say that?" Kerr said as he lobbed the wisecrack that shattered the silence with laughter. "I'm just kidding. Make sure the sarcasm is noted." ESPN.com

Windhorst talked about Love and Westbrook’s relationship because Love recently said his former UCLA teammate was having a better season than LeBron James when the MVP race was discussed on the Dan Patrick Show. Windhorst said the following, around the 37;48 mark of the podcast: “Love enjoys Westbrook. they have a relationship. there’s a conspiracy theory that exists out there that Kevin Love will go to the Lakers this summer, or next summer, and then Westbrook will join him when he’s a free agent, and they will reunite in LA, like they played for UCLA. The guy, the star player he has the best relationship in the league with is Westbrook.” Factory of Sadness

March 27, 2015 Updates
March 26, 2015 Updates

When Tramel got home, after midnight, he got a text message from his niece’s husband. It was then he realized that his encounter with Westbrook was a “thing,” in the new-media sense. “Hey, Berry, just texted you to see if you’re OK,” the message read. “Just know that I still love you.” It was as if Tramel had been in a terrible accident or charged with a crime. Grantland

That was the funny thing about Tramel’s conflict with Westbrook. He and Westbrook weren’t mad at each other. Never had been, really. They didn’t even know each other, despite sharing a locker room for seven years. “I could have been from Syracuse for the way he acted,” Tramel said. “[But] that’s not really Russ’s fault, I don’t think. I think the culture created that.” By “culture,” he meant the invisible handcheck that pushes reporters away from athletes. The disconnect that permeates monthly YouTube clips starring Westbrook or Marshawn Lynch or Phil Kessel. What created such a culture? Follow me, if you will, into the Thunder locker room … Grantland

It gave the encounter the feel of a highly personal, Deion vs. McCarver grudge. But Andrew Gilman, who writes for FoxSportsSouthwest.com, said Tramel wasn’t the target. After all, the first reporter Westbrook stiffed that night was Nick Gallo, who writes for the team’s website and whose business card says “Web Content Manager.” “When people ask, ‘Why doesn’t Westbrook like you?’ I have two standard answers,” Tramel said. “My joke is: He really does, he just doesn’t know it yet. My true answer is: He really doesn’t dislike me anymore than he dislikes somebody else. He couldn’t pick me out of a crowd.” Grantland

Royce Young, who writes for ESPN and DailyThunder.com, also noticed something strange that night. Durant was watching Westbrook from two lockers over. And Durant was laughing. Grantland

But Westbrook can also be unnecessarily harsh on reporters. One night, a game ran late. Darnell Mayberry, the Oklahoman’s senior Thunder reporter, was up against deadline. He brought his laptop into the locker room to move quotes directly from the players’ lips to his copy. Mayberry sat in a chair in front of an empty locker. Westbrook saw him and told him the chairs were for players only. Mayberry got up. But then a funny thing happened. Backup point guard Reggie Jackson took his chair, wheeled it across the locker room, and offered it to Mayberry. Remember that when you wonder why Jackson now plays for the Pistons. Grantland

More than once, Durant has accused Mayberry, the toughest of the Thunder reporters, of angling for a job in a bigger market. Durant is sophisticated about the media, but he’s not above the old trick of using a perceived slight for motivation. On December 8, 2013, Paul George visited Oklahoma City. Grantland

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