The MVP candidate has come under heavy scrutiny for his recent outbursts.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook has never been one to shy away from the spotlight.
The explosive point guard has been in other-worldly form this season, averaging a triple-double as he looks to put the ghost of Kevin Durant behind him.
But his sensational on-court showings have not been the only reason that Westbrook has been in the headlines of late.
The OKC star has attracted some deserved criticism over his fiery temper, which the 28-year-old regularly allows to get the better of him.
Having been ejected from a game with the Memphis Grizzlies just a week ago, the former UCLA star had some harsh words for officials around the league:
‘I get so many techs just for talking. I can’t even say nothing when I’m getting hammered every time I go to the damn basket throughout the games and previous games. Not tonight, but every night. I just don’t get ref’d the same way as other people, and I don’t appreciate it.’
If Westbrook feels as though referees around the league have taken issue with him personally, he certainly didn’t help his case for turning that around last night.
With the first quarter of the Thunder’s matchup with the Charlotte Hornets coming to a close, a timeout was called on the floor.
Westbrook, who had the ball in his hands at the time, seemed as though he was ready to put into practice the standard timeout protocol of throwing the ball to one of the officials.
But rather than the usual act of slowly tossing the basketball to a ref who is ready for the pass, ‘Russ’ decided to heave the ball over a group of players to a clearly unsuspecting referee.
The ball smashed the ref in the side of the head, and Westbrook was issued with a technical foul.
Of course, the 6ft 3 guard was quick to plead his case, throwing his arms up in the air and ensuring the unfortunate official that what he had done was nothing more than an accident.
You can make up your own mind on the issue, but that certainly didn’t look like an accident.
Respected ESPN analyst Jalen Rose seems to share the sentiment that there may have been more than bad luck involved in the incident:
‘Did he mean to throw it at the official? Yes.’
‘Did he do it with accuracy? Absolutely, yes. The intent wasn’t to hit him to get suspended or to get ejected. But he didn’t mind hitting him.’
The play saw Westbrook, who is a clear frontrunner in the race for the league’s MVP, pick up his eleventh technical of the season, despite having only played 36 games.
There is no doubting the fact that Russell Westbrook has been in the form of his life this season.
His assist and rebounding numbers are at a career-high, and he has single-handedly dragged the Thunder into playoff contention.
But his attitude on the court has become a real area of concern for the NBA’s officials. And it should be for Westbrook himself, too.
He’s been loud, aggressive and seems to think that the game’s rules don’t apply to him.
While his antics may come across as relatively harmless for the time being, consistently poor behaviour on the court does tend to catch up with the player involved in the long-run.
Just ask Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors… If he had managed to keep his anger in check for just one more game during last year’s finals, it is likely that the Warriors, not the Cavs, would be the current NBA champions.
Something to keep in mind for Russ…