Russell Westbrook once again had a passionate exchange with a fan seated courtside after he heard some heckling that crossed what he considers a clear red line. It happened last night as the Los Angeles Clippers dropped an entirely winnable game against the Denver Nuggets, who were playing without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon. If the combination of Westbrook getting into it with spectators while playing on a team that looks destined to underachieve and have a bunch of drama surround it all year feels familiar, that's because it very much is. We've seen similar plots play out at his many stops across this great basketball-loving country over the past few years and it sure sounds like we'll continue to see it based on Westbrook's postgame comments.
“Fans kind of have the right of way to say whatever they want, but like I told you: any disrespect to me or my family, I won’t allow it," he said. "This is our job.”
Two things can be true at the same time. First and perhaps most importantly, any fan who heckles a player is, deep down, quite a loser and and even bigger loser if they spend a ton of money to feel like a big man courtside. But Westbrook probably isn't getting any closer to his goal of having the taunts go away by proving that they really, really bother him and any random person within earshot has the ability to become a main character by pressing the issue. Of course that's very easy for me to say because I'm not the one earnestly feeling disrespected or, worse, feeling like my family is being unfairly drawn into the state of play.
Bigger picture, the Clippers are now 7-9 and wouldn't even be in the NBA's generous everyone-gets-a-berth postseason if the year ended today. All of the doubters have been proven correct to this point in their belief there may be a ton of talent on the roster but that it's incapable of translating to victories.