Sefolosha made the right play. While Westbrook was intent on scoring, Thabo was wide-open in the lane. A quick flick of the wrist would have set him up for an easy score and an assist for Westbrook. Just try it again on the next possession.
But it’s never that easy with Westbrook. His attitude towards the game is monstrously complicated. This is the same guy that blocked the Denver Nuggets mascot’s half-court shot attempt during a timeout a few weeks ago.
Yes. That actually happened.
While it sparked the Thunder to a 9-0 run, including a 3-pointer from Westbrook to tie the game, it’s unlikely that such an inane move will work again, let alone in the playoffs.
The great basketball players, the great teams, all have that burning desire to win, but sometimes they don’t fully understand what that means. And every time the Thunder seem to take that big step forward, Westbrook’s overwrought, idiosyncratic behavior pulls them two steps back.
His talent is unmistakable, but his continuous need to showcase it – or prove that he is Durant’s equal – comes at the expense of the team. An instant star, midway through his fifth year in the league, Westbrook has yet to figure out how to trust his teammates instead of trusting only his talent.
It’s a delicate balance, but one that will be required of Westbrook to discover if the Thunder have any real hope to dethrone the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. After all, neither team seems to be more or less talented than a year ago, when the Heat beat the Thunder 4-1 in a series that was more narrow than the 4-1 result would indicate.
The deciding factor last year?
More Bad Westbrook than Good Westbrook.
Around the NBA
- NBPA Director Billy Hunter has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence by an executive committee, more from Chris Bernucca of SheridanHoops: The news comes from both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and the NBC Sports Network. Hunter has been temporarily replaced by union general counsel Ron Klempner. The driving force behind Hunter’s potential removal is union president Derek Fisher, who reportedly told Hunter of the rank and file’s decision Friday morning.
- More from Bernucca: The uproar over Hunter stems from financial indiscretions allegedly found through an independent investigation by a law firm hired by the NBPA executive committee. The bullet points are here, but they basically conclude that Hunter allegedly used union funds for everything from overbilling to bad investments to lining the corporate pockets of relatives. Also Tuesday, Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Daily reported (subscription required) that seven of the nine seats on the NBPA’s executive committee would be up for election at the union’s All-Star Weekend meeting because they are currently filled by players ineligible to hold them, according to the union’s bylaws.