Sekou Smith To Russell Westbrook: Act Like A Professional

Westbrook is not a fan of the media – one columnist in particular

Tiki and Tierney
April 22, 2019 - 6:16 pm

Russell Westbrook is not a fan of columnist Berry Tramel. In fact, Westbrook has refused to answer questions from Tramel for most of the season, and his Sunday interaction with The Oklahoman writer has been a hot topic of debate.

Any advice for Westbrook as he deals with Tramel – and the media in general?

“How about just show up and act like a professional?” NBA TV analyst Sekou Smith said on Tiki & Tierney. “It’s not that difficult, guys. NBA players have been doing this for generations. You do your five minutes, do your 10 minutes, get out of there and go on with your life. It’s not that hard. And the scrutiny that comes along with the playoffs is well-established.”

Perhaps Westbrook was simply upset following the Thunder’s 111-98 loss to Portland in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. 

Nope. It goes deeper than that.

“Russ’ thing with Berry Tramel is something that goes back years and has just festered and became an embarrassment for everybody involved,” Smith said. “Somebody got through to Russ over the past few days and at least acknowledged that the man was asking him questions. He didn’t answer them very well. It’s not like he gave him some loquacious answer. He just gave him a couple of words.” 

Westbrook is, without question, one of the best players in the NBA. He’s an eight-time All-Star, was MVP in 2017, has played in the Finals, and has averaged a triple-double three seasons in a row.

Yet, he is often, for whatever reason, truculent with the media – and only the media.

“(Fans) love the guy,” Smith said. “He’s beloved in the organization, in the community. There’s nothing about him that says erratic when he’s not dealing with us in the media. This is just kind of his shield. Somebody told me they talked to Russ about this over the years, about how he’s got to let his guard down and stop being so uptight around the media. They said he just won’t have it. He feels like he has to have that veneer up to protect himself from a media that he thinks has been unfair to him – not since he joined the NBA, but since he was in high school and he wasn’t getting the attention he thought he deserved.”

Whatever drives Westbrook, well, it’s been effective. But after more than a decade in the NBA, perhaps it’s time to find other motivation.

“I understand it’s hard to let it go,” Smith said, “but at some point you got to grow up and move on.”

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