Last night Russell Westbrook submitted a line of 17 points, 17 assists, and 15 rebounds—becoming just the fourth player to ever do so—as the Thunder handily beat the best team in the league. He should've been happy—hell, maybe he was—but it didn't stop him from going off on reporters in the postgame media session.
Westbrook began by answering four questions with some variation of "we executed well," before going in on The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel. Here's their exchange:
Are you upset with something?
I just don't like you.
Do you not like Nick [a writer for the Thunder's website] either?
I love Nick. I don't like you.
Well you gave us about the same answers.
Yeah. Do you have another question?
Westbrook has always been surly with the media, but The Oklahoman Thunder beat writer Anthony Slater—probably the reporter that interacts with Westbrook the most—says he has taken it to a new level the last couple of weeks:
It started after he was ejected against the Suns a few weeks back. As he was prodded about the circumstances surrounding his two technicals, Westbrook continually said "It was a good win for us." You can read the transcript by clicking here.
Then in practice the other day, he was incredibly short with his answers. And after that, following the Thunder's loss to Houston on Thursday night, he gave a 16-word interview session, none of which came with a friendly tone.
Slater alludes to Marshawn Lynch's pressers, which we have covered here on Deadspin a few times, but I don't think the comparison is suitable. If I may be permitted to play psychiatrist for a moment, Lynch seems visibly uncomfortable while speaking with reporters, while Westbrook is more comfortably defiant. He doesn't seem to care about whether a question is intelligent or not, like Gregg Popovich, nor whether he is giving away information to opponents, like Bill Belichick.
Unlike the other sports world figures who are consistently petulant with reporters, Westbrook takes a special glee in doing so, like two seasons ago when he took issue with a reporter sitting in a chair. Via Royce Young (emphasis mine):
After the game while the media waited for the players to dress, a reporter was sitting in a chair in front of Daniel Orton's locker, who obviously is not here. Russell Westbrook walked in, saw it and immediately called the reporter out and saying loudly in front of everyone, "Those are for the players." Everyone tried to awkwardly laugh it off, but Russ wasn't kidding. A PR person came over and asked the reporter to get up. For really no reason at all, Westbrook was just showing the reporter up in front of everyone. A really childish, immature thing for him to do, but at this point, not surprising at all.
The NBA's media rules aren't that strenuous for players—they have to be available for 15 minutes during off-day practices, and 5-to-10 minutes pregame and 5-to-10 minutes postgame on game days—and at least this time Westbrook was being asked good questions that, if he so participated, could elicit interesting information. Reporters can be entitled brats who ask dumb things and waste your time, but what part of the process is Westbrook actually objecting to here? Lynch (I think) doesn't feel comfortable, Belichick doesn't want to give away information, and Popovich doesn't want to answer things that he feels beneath him. Westbrook just seems to enjoy embarrassing people.
Luckily for Thunder reporters, Kevin Durant seems okay with them.