For a few years now, Russell Westbrook has refused to answer questions from Oklahoman writer Berry Tramel. Last night, after the Thunder beat Portland in Oklahoma City to pull the series back to 2-1, Westbrook once again broke out his little comedy routine in response to a routine Tramel inquiry.
Here’s video of last night’s exchange, followed by a look back at the fairly one-sided feud through the years:
Russell Westbrook & OKC reporter Berry Tramel
2015: I just don't like you
2017: Hold up Steven
2019: Next question pic.twitter.com/RNCpinyLZ9
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 20, 2019
It’s certainly a weird strategy, one that’s been going on so long there’s a Grantland piece about it, in which Bryan Curtis attempted to figure out what the Thunder hoped to gain by taking such an antagonistic posture with the press. (Or, at the very least, enabling their players to do so.)
Here’s the whole presser, too, which features Westbrook and George answering questions (curtly, at times) for a few minutes before Tramel gets his chance:
That would make it seem as though Westbrook absolutely hates Tramel for some reason, but according to Tramel that’s not the case. He actually wrote about the ongoing routine recently. A relevant excerpt:
The idea that Westbrook has some personal issue with me is misguided. That’s not true. Westbrook’s issue is with media in general. I don’t know from where his original distrust came, but I know he’s allowed it to fester over the years, with no guidance from Thunder officials. It’s too late – far too late – to do anything about it now. But Westbrook has been disrespectful to the Oklahoma City media going back almost a decade. And the OKC media has not been disrespectful back. Westbrook has been treated well by the people who cover the Thunder, both in personal deportment and in the content they produce.
Westbrook, clearly, is trying to make a point whenever he does this. His eyes darting around the room as if looking for someone, anyone else to ask a question is proof of that. (Also, Paul George jumping in to play along like the kid in class who also wants attention but doesn’t know how to get it on his own would be a revealing Paul George moment, if we didn’t already know that about him.)
It’s just not a great look. Does it really harm anyone? Not really. It makes Tramel’s job maybe somewhat more difficult, and as Curtis showed back in 2015, the overall franchise posturing probably makes it tougher on the OKC media in general to do their jobs. That’s not the end of the world. No one is doing anything illegal or immoral.
It’s just odd, and given the stubbornness of the star player involved, it’s not likely to end any time soon.