Westbrook Tough Break, Not A Dirty One

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HOUSTON — Patrick Beverley
plays hard and he plays fast and he plays much, much bigger than his listed height of 6-foot-1.

Beverley does not play dirty. At least he did not on the play that might have ended Russell Westbrook’s season.

The injury to Westbrook’s right knee was untimely, unfortunate and could ultimately prove to be the undoing of the Thunder’s chance to win the NBA championship this season. But it was not unsportsmanlike conduct.

It was hustle. It was aggressive. It was the way virtually every coach who ever carried a clipboard wants his to players to play — until he hears the whistle.

Was Westbrook trying to call a timeout? Probably. But he hadn’t and no referee had signaled for play to stop.

Were the chances of Beverley making the steal slim? Probably. But the best players don’t always need the odds in their favor. They force the action.

It is understandable that fans in Oklahoma City have been devastated by the news that one of their two All-Star players could be lost for the rest of the season following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

It is not understandable, reasonable or even civilized for fans to direct threats toward Beverley on Twitter.

For those over-reactors in the 24-hour media maw, have you watched the video replays? Westbrook dribbled across mid-court and was perhaps a bit too cavalier in thinking he was going to get a timeout and Beverley did what he always does — he played.

The two players bumped knees and when that happens, often someone gets hurt. In this case, it was Westbrook who turned and slammed down his fist onto the scorer’s table.

Take note: Not only was there no foul called on the play, but Kevin Durant, who was standing right there, did not even give Beverley the slightest derisive look. And not a single player or coach on the Thunder bench reacted as if a breach of etiquette had occurred. By the way, Westbrook played all 24 minutes of the second half, scoring 16 of his 29 points.

Injuries happen and they have derailed more than a few teams and careers. This season alone injuries have kept the likes of Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Danny Granger, among others, on the sidelines in the postseason. Dikembe Mutombo’s long and glorious career came to an end when he collided with Portland’s Greg Oden in a playoff game in 2009. The 1989 Lakers were a flawless 11-0 in the playoffs and maybe motoring toward a “three-peat” when hamstring injuries claimed Magic Johnson and Byron Scott on the eve of The Finals and they were swept out by the Pistons.

These are the playoffs and these are the big leagues. Through the years I have seen Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stand up as if he were going to call a timeout. Then the defenders relax and Tony Parker scoots all the way in to the basket for an uncontested layup. It occurred most famously at the Staples Center in a playoff game against Shaq, Kobe and the Lakers.

Two years ago, while playing for the Blazers, Andre Miller dribbled across the half-court line, head-faked toward the referee and when the Hornets defense stopped in its tracks, turned the corner and scored a cheap bucket.

It’s a bad time for Westbrook, who had played 439 in a row and never missed a game in his career. It’s bad luck for the Thunder, who will now have to lean on Durant more than ever and have others step up to fill the void. It’s a bad break for everybody who wants to see the best go head-to-head at this time of the year. It was not bad basketball.

Those who suggest that the Rockets be fined, suspended or somehow punished should perhaps turn to croquet, tea parties or other gentler pastimes.

Beverley was playing frantic, frenzied, feverish, furious. Sassy and smart too.

But he wasn’t dirty.
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57 Comments

  1. kd35555 says:

    okc is gunna win kevin durant should have got mvp he had better stats and theres not a team he cant beat hiim self

  2. Hadi says:

    Beverley needs a beatdown for what he did! it was a dirty and grimey play! because of his stupidity, immaturity, and lack of respect for the game, one of the best players in the nba (probably the most dedicated) has to sit out for the rest of the season after working hard all year to get that no 1 seed..plus who knows if he comes back as the same player..i doubt hell be as explosive as he is now..and all that is because of beverley..theres some things u just dont do and that was one of them..i really feel bad for a player like westbrook to have to go through this because of the actions of an idiot!

  3. Shawn says:

    I watched the game and my first impression watching the incident was that of a bowling bowl striking a pin. He had an opportunity to hurt him and he took it. No foul? that is insane. that was not even close to a steal. However, this is the playoffs. And these guys are playing to win… I think it was definitely dirty, but threats are totally unwarranted. I do think Beverly should be suspended.

  4. MJfromOKC says:

    I didnt make any threats, I hope my Tanya Harding joke didnt go over anyones head.

  5. ThunderUP says:

    If you watches the game they were going at it from the jump.It may not have been inteninal to hurt him.But it was meant to get under his skin. The whistle was blown so there was no way he could make a play at ball.Also he was trying to knock russel around all game. Westbrooks just to good even on one leg .AND DURANT OVERRATED IS CRAZY TALK

  6. Kamote says:

    It was a clean play. Would’ve been questionable if Wade did it hahaha.

    In retrospect we can now see how OKC would do without Westbrook. He’s always been blamed last year for taking too many shots or on his decision-making. Now we can see how good this team is without him.

  7. johnny dawson says:

    Let’s not say it was dirty. Let’s just say it was wreckless. You can see Beverly’s hip crashing into Russell’s knee from the side. Maybe the league should have a rule that if the player is injured by wreckless play, the other team collectively has to pick up the tab for that player’s salary while he is out. That would end the wreckless play. And if it is intentional, they have to pay double.

  8. NBA Fan says:

    play hard and you can make a difference

    clean play

  9. digitioli says:

    I respectfully disagree. The signal was made for the timeout, the whistle blown, and THEN Beverly hit him with his hip, not his knee. It’s a dirty play because it was after the whistle and Westbrook had let up. This is like tackling in the end zone to me – the play is over. There’s a reason Charles Barkley said he’d go kick his butt – it was totally uncalled for, and he made the move that injured Westbrook after the whistle sounded – watch the tape and listen!

  10. MJfromOKC says:

    We wont know until after Russells surgery which has not happened whether or not he can come back in the playoffs. It is not out of the realm of possibility if he doesnt need stitches and the swelling is nominal. He is going to an arthroscopic expert in Vail Colorado. He could make it back for the conference finals if this was the case. Or in 10 days if he talks to Metta World Peace who apparently wants to sit out Sundays game and will be available.

  11. KINGKONGJAMES says:

    ninja turtle overacting

  12. MJfromOKC says:

    Westbrook would be in todays starting line up if it wasnt for Beverly trying to make a play during a timeout call.

  13. Kobeblackhole says:

    okc is done, westbrook is done, it so happens that this happened to westbrook but how many times does westbrook plays like a madman? like a rambo swatting this that even last second plays. so backdown okc fanboys, just accept that your team will never ever win an nba championship.

  14. Hustlin for the Ball says:

    Talkin’ about dirty Plays… What about Perkins holding Parson as he tries to close out the (maybe) game decisive three?
    THAT IS A DIRTY PLAY!

    The loss of Westbrook is very unfortunate though. I would have loved to see last year’s final battle to be foght again.

  15. Sintido kumon says:

    At least Beverley was goin for the ball,not like Perkins grabbing parsons with two hands??what if parsons got injured because of that play??you fan boys will probably say its part of the game…get real,this is the NBA playoffs,not chess…

  16. Patrickmarc says:

    Nothing….just nothing wrong, there are so many situation like this one.

  17. Rocketsfan says:

    I really don’t like Beverly’s play and I support Rockets. But that kind of play is not right. Beverly sometimes out of control. He is aggressive but not the right way. He would cause a lot of violence on the court. I think he should be taught how to play basketball by not hurting other people. Lin got hurt so many times. Some players are too much.

  18. MJfromOKC says:

    Oh whatever, nobody really cares that much.

  19. Troubleman says:

    Furthermore, plenty of times, Russ has gotten away with swatting at the ball while someone is holding it after the ref blew the play dead, nobody calls for him to receive a tech. This ultra-sensitive era of the NBA is pitiful. On one hand Barkley, sais Westbrook should have swung on Beverly… he turns around and says plays like the one where Barnes came down on Z-Bo is perfectly fine in the playoffs. How do you play both sides of the fence. Also, where was the tech when Westbrook slapped Beverly’s hand away when he tried to reach out and acknowledge him going down through hustle? Did he not see Beverly getting ready to swipe at the ball? I think he did. Anyhow, IMO, just like in the watered-down NFL, if you’re afraid of getting hurt, go out of bounds or stay home.

  20. MJfromOKC says:

    Fran, it was obviously a dirty play. You don’t just go for a steal on a timeout ball.

    Harden and the Rockerts will be booed for 2 hours and 30 minutes straight when they return to OKC for game 5. There may even be some on court violence.

    I would totally support some fans running on court with a pipe wrench and drilling it into Beverlys knee cap.

    Everyone thought it was a bad move. Kenny Smith said he would have punched the kid and not the table.

    Nobody out there thinks that it is ok.

  21. Troubleman says:

    I agree with the article. I enjoy watching teams play with a full roster, I enjoy watching the Thunder, and wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch of the Finals (coming from a Celtics die-hard fan). You’re right, everyone in the building and everyone watching on tv could tell Westbrook was signaling a timeout, but play was not whistled dead. Boo freakin hoo, the Napolean complexed all-star unfortunately got hurt, but stop crying please. Maybe if they change the rule, where all play stops soon as you wave at the ref while crossing half-court, but until then, Man-Up.

  22. Billy says:

    That was a dirty play. In the replay one can clearly tell that Beverely saw the Thunder about to call timeout, and decided to make a play on the ball anyway. It doesn’t matter if somebody could get a cheap basket by faking a timeout, you don’t make a play on the ball in that situation, because it could lead to people getting hurt. That’s just bad sportsmanship,

  23. W/E says:

    Didnt know Westbrook is that soft.

    • Kamote says:

      soft? dude, he tore his knee, but walked it off. even got pissed at the pain that he just punched the scorer’s table knowing that he might not be able to finish the playoffs. It not like someone who had to be carried off the court with a pulled hamstring LOL.

      • 34yr fan says:

        punched something—-just like Amare last year in the playoffs…..can’t control their emotions…. and it doesn’t/didn’t help them

  24. Tyler says:

    Funny you mention Kobe in the article. Didn’t everyone including Kobe say the guy who was defending him on the play he hurt his ankle was playing dirty? I don’t think Beverly intentionally hurt Russ, he was being more a pest, not dirty though

  25. ginobi says:

    believe me, he’s not injured.

  26. You're Blind says:

    It was a punk play and completely unnecessary. It’s sad a foul or a tech wasn’t called as he cleary went through the player (a foul) to get to the ball.

  27. Steve Ricks says:

    Dikembe contracted the injury disease when he bumped into Oden…

  28. Dirty Play says:

    No, the whistle was blown before the contact. Westbrook had already held up his hand. From that play until the end of the game Beverly was trying to get under Westbrook’s skin. It wasn’t called for, never has Westbrook faked a timeout like Kenny and Shaq were saying was a normal thing. Thank you Barkley for being the only one to stand up and say this was a dirty play. Just because everyone hates Westbrook doesn’t mean this wasn’t dirty.

    Also, Westbrook played more than a half of that game with a torn meniscus and still schooled everyone. You’re the man Westbrook, you’re the man.

  29. david says:

    How does making useless plays like that count as playing hard? Have you ever seen anybody get a steal like that? Might as well run suicides during halftime to play hard. Furthermore, just because a foul wasn’t called on the floor doesn’t mean it wasn’t a foul (the replays show that it clearly was). The refs probably just let it go because nobody has ever gotten hurt on stupid plays like that.

    I do agree, however, that he wasn’t trying to deliberately hurt Westbrook and that posting threats on twitter is over the line.

  30. Poor Westbrook... says:

    Pretty spot-on article. I’m pissed too that Westbrook’s out, but there is no way that was even close to being dirty. If Westbrook had faked the timeout as others have in the past and actually fooled Beverley, Rockets coach McHale would have been yelling at Beverley afterwards, demanding to know why he gave up and DIDN’T go for the steal.

    Sometimes, **** happens, and there really is no one to blame.

  31. TSU says:

    It’s definitely not dirty. It is clear that Beverly was hustling for the ball instead of hurting anyone. Even though he knew Westbrook was gonna call a timeout, that attempt of steal is no dirty. You can see Westbrook did the same thing: play! He tried to protect the ball by moving the right leg between the defender and the ball, even though he knew he called the timeout. Both of the two were playing hard till the last second. It’s just unfortunate.

  32. Dave says:

    No, this was a STUPID play but not dirty.

    Its like driving and getting a yellow light, and you full well the red is coming so you should stop, but you go anyway, and risk an accident.

    Hope he makes a full recovery, but if they trim down his meniscus, it just doesn’t grow back … he’s body will be different, and it might affect him for his whole life.

  33. amitpal bains says:

    I dont think the play was dirty nor did I think it was intentional. but I do think that this is something a player should look out for. Beverly is young therefor I dont blame him. but next time he should be a little more careful and just watch out. I’m not saying he shouldnt hustle, if that play presents itself again he should do the samething by hustling to it, he just needs to make sure he doesnt make contact because an injury like that could be career ending. we cant just have players recklessly doing stuff. I’m sure Beverly ment no harm but next time he should just be more careful. as for Westbrook get well man and come back stronger and better.

  34. theflowson says:

    It happens, Beverley was already going for the steal as the timeout was being called. Every possession counts in the playoffs and Beverley wasn’t about to let Westbrook get away with nonchalantly dribbling the basketball up the floor. Whether there was about to be a timeout or not, the play doesn’t end till a timeout is called.

    He was just trying to go for a steal, contact is inevitable in this league and sometimes it unfortunately ends up in injury. That is just the way it is. Its not like he tried to drop kick him or put his foot underneath him while shooting like Bruce Bowen did back in the day. A simple steal attempt gone wrong for Westbrook, nothing more.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….what?? bringing up an all star defensive player to this conversation about a young player being aggressive in the playoffs is a non starter….. not even in the same stratosphere !!! LOL……… just gotta get one last ‘hate in there, huh??

  35. Roy says:

    Now we’re going to see how good Kevin Durant and the Thunder truly are. He’s over rated and the team is going to fall apart without Westbrook. Just watch. In the next few weeks they’re going to be called “The Oklahoma City Blunder”

  36. Pakyaw says:

    If this play happen to d fisher, they will say its a hustle play no biggie,playoff hustle game..just because its Westbrook,and all okc fan first reaction it’s dirty, I bet if Westbrook is not injured right now, nobody gonna mentioned that play was dirty…

  37. Le says:

    Having looked the replay for several times, you could find out that before the Beverly’s Steal, he looked to the OKC”s Bench. Obviously he knew that OKC was gonnal have a timeout. I really don’t think that he was just playing hard, aggresive, but also kind of dirty, at least on that steal.,because he knew that there gonna be a timeout.

    • TWizz says:

      That happens ALL THE TIME… Watch every game and you will see before timeouts that players go for the steal. It’s unfortunate that Westbrook got injured, but that’s just the NBA. I’ve seen a lot worse.

  38. Ben says:

    Very well said Fran. I’m an OKC fan and Russell is my favourite player, but I’m ashamed at the vitriol directed by fellow OKC fans at Beverley, who is a fun player to watch and who I think should be praised for playing hard.

  39. steppx says:

    agree 100%