Tramel: Thunder "Complicit" In Westbrook's Behavior

Berry Tramel doesn't mind being ignored, but he does think Oklahoma City regrets enabling its superstar

Tiki and Tierney
April 23, 2019 - 5:42 pm
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Journalists like telling the story; they don’t like being the story. The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, however, has become part of the story in the NBA playoffs, as Russell Westbrook is refusing to answer his questions.

How challenging or uncomfortable has this been?

“It’s not too uncomfortable because Westbrook is not really depriving me of anything,” Tramel said on Tiki & Tierney. “He’s not ever been terribly forthcoming. Even when he answers questions, they’re not great. He’s not real insightful. It’s not like the rest of the world is getting good information and I’m not. I’m not behind. I’m just in lockstep with everyone else. It’s just that he sort of singled me out.”

But why? What happened?

“Well, the most recent thing was January,” Tramel said. “He didn’t like a question I asked. Since then, he’s gone to the next-question mode with me for three months. Everybody in Oklahoma is sort of used to it. It’s not a big deal. Then you get to the playoffs and the press conferences are televised and it becomes sort of a thing.

“But it goes back three or four years,” Tramel continued. “He wasn’t really cooperating with me, and I asked him what was wrong. He said he just didn’t like me. Why he said that, I have zero idea up to that point. Since then, we’ve had a couple of run-ins. . . . Sometimes I say it’s not a good relationship, but that’s not true. There is no relationship. I think Russell likes to control things, and he likes to control the media. I’ve sort of dug my heels in and said you’re not going to get to control this part of it. You can control your end, but you’re not going to control my end, and that’s sort of where we’re at.”

Fans haven’t soured on Westbrook due to his behavior toward Tramel, but it hasn’t exactly made him more endearing.

“Everybody loves him to some degree,” Tramel said. “However, they’re not winning like they’ve been accustomed to these last two or three years, and Oklahoma is not Philadelphia. We’re not real caustic people. So they don’t really like untoward behavior. They don’t like people acting out for no good reason, and I’ve been around forever. I’m not any kind of hero, but most people know me and most people resect me. Most people seem to think he shouldn’t be acting this way. 

“So he’s damaged his own status a little bit,” Tramel continued. “He’s still beloved. I’m not saying he’s not. But there was a time when if this had occurred, I would not be very popular in town. But that’s not necessarily the case anymore.”

Tramel added that the Thunder are complicit in Westbrook’s behavior.

“They’ve created this culture,” Tramel said. “They’ve enabled Westbrook over the years. They’ve sort of helped give him a sense of control in a variety of things. I think it’s gotten away from them. I think they realize now they’ve made some mistakes in that regard. He came in as a rookie somewhat distrustful of the media, and rather than work to sort that out and build relationships, they’ve sort of contributed to the barriers that keep things from improving. So I would say the Thunder is quite complicit in this. Friday night was not a good look.”

Click below to listen to Tramel’s interview in its entirety.