When ever fans of the Association ask me how long does it take to turn a team into a contender in the NBA; I always point to the Oklahoma City Thunder as an example of the right way to rebuild a team. Just a few seasons ago the Thunder were stuck in the cellar of the Association and many fans thought that it would take them years to climb back up to contender status. However, Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti was able to surprise many by building a very good team in an extremely short time period. Through a series of drafts and trades the Thunder are now one of the better teams in the NBA Western Conference.
The club’s head coach Scott Brooks has instilled a blue-collar, working-class mentality into his squad; preaching the little things like diving for balls and playing strong defense. Brooks has always stressed chemistry on his team as well and it is usually reflected in how his roster conducts themselves on the floor and on the bench during games.
That rapport between teammates would disappear for a while during the second quarter of the Thunder’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night. Late in the period point guard Russell Westbrook fired off a pass to Thabo Sefolosha who appeared to have an open three-pont shot just waiting for him to take it. When the 27-year-old shooting guard did not attempt to get off a shot Westbrook screamed at him. During a break in the action seconds later; several of Westbrook’s teammates came over to try to calm their point guard down. Although he appeared to regain his composure; he and Kevin Durant got into a shouting match on the bench soon there after and had to be separated.
The “Oklahoman” reports that Durant said that the argument between he and Westbrook was truly not a big deal. The All-Star told reporters “We’re going to disagree sometimes, like I’ve always been saying. But I’m behind him 110 percent, and he’s the same way with me. And you seen when we came on the floor we clicked and everything started to work from there.”
This is not the first time that Westbrook has had controversy swirling around him during his career with Oklahoma City; last spring many criticized him for taking too many ill-fated shots during the Playoffs. It was said that Durant was especially unhappy with how the point guard was playing.
If he does not realize it by now; the universe revolves around Durant in Oklahoma City. Westbrook is and always be a side-kick to the NBA scoring champion as long as they remain together. However if the guard pushes too hard he will be tossed out on his ear traded to another team for what the Thunder can acquire for him.
Westbrook is a talented point guard; however he is not an All-Star or a top-ten guard in the Association. Durant is pretty much irreplaceable, however the Thunder can get another point guard of his caliber or perhaps even better. Westbrook can keep playing the good soldier and grow with this team; or he can become a malcontent and possibly find himself in a far less desirable situation. The choice is his to make.