On this episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, Alex Kennedy is joined by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel. Since January, Russell Westbrook has refused to answer Tramel’s questions. Tramel discusses how this all started, their history, Westbrook’s “us-against-them” mentality when it comes to the media as a whole, the response he’s received – locally and nationally – and more.
:48: Tramel shares when Westbrook initially started refusing to answer his post-game questions.
1:30: Last night, Westbrook changed his approach by saying, “That’s a good question, I don’t know,” instead of, “Next question.” Tramel was surprised and thinks Westbrook did it because of the blow back he’s received.
3:05: Tramel discusses the outpouring of support he has received – locally and nationally – since this story took off.
5:10: In 2015, Westbrook told Tramel, “I just don’t like you.” Tramel felt this was a shot at the media as a whole rather than anything personal since they don’t know each other. Many reporters have had difficult interactions with Westbrook over the years. Tramel discusses when Westbrook became so anti-media and whether it gradually worsened over the years.
8:55: After Tramel asked a question at one press conference, Paul George asked Westbrook, “Do you want me to tell him [next question]?” Tramel shares whether his interactions with other Thunder players have been impacted by the Westbrook situation.
12:15: There was an article by Grantland’s Bryan Curtis in 2015 about how the Oklahoma City Thunder created an anti-media culture. Tramel discusses if things have changed since then and whether he received any blow back from the Thunder PR staff or front office for participating in that piece.
15:30: Tramel shares why he continues to ask Westbrook questions even though he knows he won’t get a proper response.
18:00: By singling out Tramel, Westbrook has actually given the veteran sportswriter more exposure than ever and it has helped Berry build his brand nationally. Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd interviewed him in recent days, he was discussed on First Take and many outlets have written about him.
20:32: We sometimes hear how Westbrook is an amazing teammate and father. Why is he so different around the media, choosing to have this adversarial relationship with every journalist (even people who have written positively about him)?
27:05: Tramel discusses how the Thunder’s media protocol is meant to make things easier on the players and keep them happy. Then, he discusses how shocked and devastated the organization was when Kevin Durant left, considering they go out of their way to try to appease players.
33:10: The Thunder are on the verge of being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs once again. Tramel discusses what changes need to be made in order for this team to become a contender and how fans have reacted to this lackluster showing against the Portland Trail Blazers.
38:10: Westbrook is a complicated player. He puts up monster numbers (which his supports cite), but he’s inefficient and struggles with his shot (which his critics cite). Tramel breaks down Westbrook’s game and how he’s allowed George to become OKC’s No. 1 option.
40:15: Tramel continues to praise aspects of Westbrook’s game and even defends him at times, despite the way he’s been treated. He hasn’t taken any of this personally. He discusses why he handled the situation this way.
42:45: This is one of the biggest sports-media stories in a while. Did Tramel expect this story to blow up once the playoffs started (and Westbrook’s refusals were televised) or was he surprised this took off?
44:50: Tramel shares what happened back in January that prompted this treatment from Westbrook.
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