Wob: Rating All of Russell Westbrook’s NBA Beefs

Wob: Rating All of Russell Westbrook’s NBA Beefs article feature image
Credit:

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (back), Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (left) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (right).

  • Russell Westbrook has never been one to back down from confrontation. In fact he enjoys confrontation as much as he enjoys a dunking on a fastbreak.
  • His Westbrook vs. Everybody attitude has led to some memorable and entertaining beefs around the association.
  • Rob Perez analyzes Westbrook's best beefs against players, teams and fans throughout his career.

The line has been drawn in the sand. You either ride with Russell Westbrook to the death or you despise him.

I feel pretty safe declaring this hypothesis as the Maginot Line of NBA fandom, an impenetrable military fortification of Westbrook stans isolating themselves from any middle ground of opinion, all in defense of his style of play and actions off-the-court.


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Let me be clear up front: there is no right or wrong answer. If you love The Brodie, you appreciate his ‘it’s me vs. the world’ mentality.

He is basketball’s version of Maximus from Gladiator — taking on any challenge, any competitor, at any time, and when he’s done he’s going to tomahawk his sword at you and demand to know if you were entertained. He doesn’t care if you respond, as apathy is his arch nemesis.

Russ’ relentless, blood-thirsty approach isn’t just a mentality — he never takes a play off. He would posterize a litter of golden retriever puppies if it meant two points for his team.

This man has a line of players around the block who would love nothing more than to get him into a steel cage, lock the door, and throw away the key, and while this approach has attracted the loyalty and love of millions, it has simultaneously spawned sentiments of envy, malice, and a lust for retribution against him.

He has instigated a multiple war front with some of the league’s biggest names, and as a result: the exacerbated fans of those players/franchises have united under one flag in opposition of their common enemy.

“He’s a stat-padder.”

“He’s corny, a fake tough guy.”

“It’s all an act.”

Just a small sample of the feedback you see and hear on the internet daily from the Westbrook resistance — or in the case of Portland Trail Blazers Center Jusuf Nurkic: “Why Not, Westbrick?”

This tweet was published shortly after the Blazers’ 123-114 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. It was the lemon-herb dressing on top of the steak the two had grilled for the entirety of the night.

But what temperature was this specific steak made to order? What temperatures are the beefs that Westbrook has on the grill with all of his other adversaries?

We will use the following thermometer on a 0-10 degree scale:

  • Rare (0-2 degrees)
  • Medium Rare (2-4 degrees)
  • Medium (4-6 degrees)
  • Medium Well (6-8 degrees)
  • Well Done (8-10 degrees)

Degrees will be added (0-2.5) based on the following characteristics of the beef:

  1. Ingredients: how extensive is Westbrook’s battle with the opposing player? What products of tension constitute the recipe? Is it fresh or has it been simmering for an extensive amount of time?
  2. Battle: There are casualties in war otherwise it wouldn’t be called war. What was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment and how severe was it?
  3. Postgame: Was the beef squashed at the postgame press conferences or did it escalate?
  4. Resolution: Does it feel like there will be an olive branch offered or did someone have to be conquered for it to end?

Damian Lillard/Jusuf Nurkic/Portland Trail Blazers

  • INGRIDIENTS: 1
  • BATTLE: 1.5
  • POSTGAME: 2.5
  • RESOLUTION: 1.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Medium Well

Ingredients: Remember when Damian Lillard made a big deal about being continuously snubbed by the All-Star game selection committee? He eventually got the recognition, and guess who got snubbed to make room? Paul George.

Westbrook was very vocal about his displeasure:

Unbelievable. I think it’s just outrageous in my opinion. I think…I don’t know who else made the team but… four people from one team. You’ve got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get in. Guys are talking about it all the time but the guys that deserve it should be in it.

The tension quickly dissipated as Lillard told The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman about his interaction with Westbrook at the all-star game weeks later.

“He was the first guy I saw … As soon as he came in, we made eye contact, we both laughed. He was like, ‘Man, you know we’re better than that.’ I said, ‘I know.’ I said, ‘But you know I take exception to everything.’ We literally laughed about it.

“It wasn’t a big deal … Me and Russ have always had respect for each other.”

Long story short: it was nothin’.

Battle: First, Evan Turner mocks Westbrook’s ‘Rock the Baby’ celebration.

Then, Westbrook and Nurkic have a petty war:

Then, the declaration:

Postgame: Things hit the fan in the locker room, fast … first, Westbrook responds to Turner’s actions:

And then Nurkic comes for Russ after Westbrook’s under-his-breath insult on Twitter (see above).

Resolution: No, this does not feel like it’s getting resolved any time soon. Just go to Lillard’s Instagram and see for yourself:

Lillard said after the game they respect each other, per The Athletic’s Jason Quick, but let’s be honest the only ‘welcome’ those postgame pleasantries will be is a doormat at the footstep of Round 2.

Joel Embiid

  • INGREIDENTS: 2.5
  • BATTLE: 2.5
  • POSTGAME: 2.5
  • RESOLUTION: 2.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Well Done

Ingredients: Where do we even start?

That time Russ waved at Joel and told him to go home after beating him in triple-overtime…

And then Embiid dunked him into middle earth during the rematch…

The match score was deuce. All seemed quiet on the western front, kind of…

until…

HEADS!!!!

Westbrook had two words for Embiid when he was asked if they were cool…

Embiid’s response:

It’s on and it’s not getting resolved anytime soon.

Lance Stephenson

  • INGREIDENTS: 0
  • BATTLE: 2
  • POSTGAME: 0
  • RESOLUTION: 0
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Rare

Has an NBA’s patented taunt ever been killed faster than Lance’s air guitar?

Short answer: No.

Nikola Jokic

  • INGREIDENTS: 0
  • BATTLE: 2
  • POSTGAME: 0.5
  • RESOLUTION: 0.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Medium Rare

Jamal Murray has his own grill going, and on Dec. 15 he crossed spatulas with Westbrook.

It was progressing like most NBA quarrels before it, a lot of pushing, posturing, and invitations to meet in the tunnel — when out-of-nowhere:

Jokic immediately finds himself on the list.

When asked how all of this went down, Murray told The Denver Post:

“I was just standing in my spot. That’s how he is, I guess. That’s not my problem.”

It is now.

Zaza Pachulia 

  • INGREIDENTS: 2.5
  • BATTLE: 0.5
  • POSTGAME: 2
  • RESOLUTION: 2.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Medium Well

Well let’s state the obvious here:

  • Zaza was on the Warriors, the team giving sanctuary to Westbrook’s No. 1 enemy, Kevin Durant, so by default Zaza could not be trusted.
  • It’s Zaza, the man with one of the “dirtiest player” reputations in the basketball world.

Back in 2017, Zaza committed a flagrant foul on Russ in which he struck Westbrook in the head hedging a screen, and laid him out.

Westbrook soon-after popped up and the game continued on without any further altercations.

At the postgame press conference, Westbrook was shown the play and said:

“I didn’t see that until just now, but I don’t play that game. I’m going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don’t know, but I don’t play that game.”

Fast-forward to 2018, and we have “the fall”:

What transpired at the postgame press conference was some of the best player-reporter back-and-forth dialogue of our time:

Reporter: “He fell on your leg.”

Westbrook: “Thank you. Don’t ask me a dumb question you know the answer to.”

Reporter: “Did you see it?”

Westbrook: “What did it look like? What it look like? Anybody touch him? Yes or no?”

Reporter: “I didn’t see the replay.”

Westbrook: “Oh, you didn’t see it? But why you asking about something you didn’t see? Well then if you didn’t see it, don’t ask me a question. Don’t ask me dumb questions, man. Obviously, it was intentional. So don’t ask me if it was intentional. Nobody touched him, he fell on my leg, tried to hurt me. But hey, that’s how it goes.

Westbrook [after being asked if Zaza is a dirty player by a third party], “Yeah, for sure. For sure.”

This matchup, as anything is involving Zaza, is a powder keg that needs just the slightest spark to erupt.

De’Aaron Fox

  • INGREIDENTS: 0
  • BATTLE: 2.5
  • POSTGAME: 1
  • RESOLUTION: 2
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Medium

The unveiling of Westbrook’s “Rock the Baby” celebration: Oct. 21, 2018.

Then he did it to him again in his own gym.

Russ wasn’t done. Before the game, Fox declared himself the fastest man in the NBA on Chris Haynes’ Yahoo! Podcast, — even faster than the previous consensus answer to this question: Russell Westbrook.

“People debate it all the time … “[Debating if I’m one of the] top three or four fastest players in the league. Nah, I’m not up there. I’m No. 1. … I be watching film and I be looking at my feet and I be like, ‘Man, there’s no way people think I’m not the fastest person.’

“I’m faster than John Wall. I’m faster than John. Russ is extremely explosive. I’m faster than Westbrook. … If we’re talking about from baseline to baseline with the ball in my hands, I’m definitely the fastest person in the league.”

Here’s the thing about Russ — he misses NOTHING said about him. He may play possum and deny being petty, but that’s exactly what makes him so damn petty.

The first chance he had, he let De’Aaron know what he thought of his podcast:

But in the end: Fox got the win and ran straight up into Russ’ grill to let him know

There is only one way to solve this: 100 yard dash while dribbling a basketball.

Westbrook (-130)
Fox (+110)

Ricky Rubio/Utah Jazz

  • INGREIDENTS: 1
  • BATTLE: 1
  • POSTGAME: 0
  • RESOLUTION: 1.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Medium Rare

During the 2018 playoffs, Russell Westbrook declared that Ricky Rubio was sentenced to a life of 24 hour lockdowns. SHU Program. He guaranteed he’d “Shut that s**t off next game.

He did not shut that s**t off, and the Jazz fans set him off nuclear.

He immediately let the world know “he don’t play that s**t.”

Jazz fans do not forget. This is not over.

Patrick Beverley

  • INGREIDENTS: 2.5
  • BATTLE: 2.5
  • POSTGAME: 2.5
  • RESOLUTION: 2.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Well Done

If you’ve made it this far into the article, you already know about the Isaiah Thomas vs. Michael Jordan of this era.

Courtesy of Seth Rosenthal at SB Nation, the 10 minutes you spend watching this — why Westbrook & Beverley despise each other so much — will be the best decision you make today.

It goes way back. All the way to AAU. Two guys from two different backgrounds. Two different walks of life. Two different ways of doing business. Two pit bulls.

They just played again, for what feels like the 100th time, and they STILL can’t help but play to the brink of brawling.

Don’t believe what they tell you. Time does not heal all wounds, especially those that are surgically-repaired.

Reggie Jackson

  • INGREIDENTS: 2.5
  • BATTLE: 2.5
  • POSTGAME: 2.5
  • RESOLUTION: 2.5
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Well Done

Nov. 27, 2015: Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook face each other for the first time since Reggie left the Thunder to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. During their tenure as teammates, the tension and animosity between the two was always a widespread rumor.

In this league, where there’s smoke — there’s fire. All of a sudden, after the game, Russ forgot who Reggie Jackson was.

March 29, 2016: Reggie Jackson gets his revenge. The Pistons defeat the Thunder 88-82, AND REGGIE JACKSON WAVES THE THUNDER OFF THE COURT!!!!

During the post game press conference, Westbrook unleashed hell on Jackson and his actions:

“I thought it was some real b——- for our team and our organization. I don’t like it at all. But it is what it is. We’ll see him down the line. We’ll take care of that when we get there.

He wasn’t changing nothing for us … Obviously he didn’t want to be here. He’s at a better spot. He’s not doing too much of a difference if you ask me. He’s gonna stay over in Detroit. We gonna stay over here and we’ll see them next season.”

May 30, 2016: The Oklahoma City Thunder are eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.

Minutes Reggie Jackson appears to subtweet his old team.

June 1, 2016: Nazr Mohammaed tells the world how Westbrook would not sit against the Pistons when the coaching staff wanted to rest the starters.

Dec. 4th, 2018: Guess who got the baby rocked on him?

Fatality. Flawless Victory.

Oh, and speaking of Westbrook holding ex-teammate grudges above all…

Kevin Durant

  • INGREIDENTS: 100
  • BATTLE: 100
  • POSTGAME: 100
  • RESOLUTION: 100
  • BEEF TEMPERATURE: Hockey Puck

This is what happens when you leave the burner on for too long.