Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant says star point guard Russell Westbrook is a great teammate and person and believes the narrative of players not wanting to play with Westbrook is “ignorant.”
Grant, who re-signed with the Thunder this summer, has been a teammate of Westbrook’s for two seasons and says the media paints the wrong picture of the explosive guard.
“That’s just ignorant,” Grant told Alex Kennedy on the Hoops Hype Podcast. “I think people just listen to the media [who say that] and believe it, but Russ is a great teammate and a great person. Players obviously want to play with him. PG [Paul George] just re-signed to come back. I just re-signed to come back. I know of a lot of players who want to be in OKC.
“I think that’s a huge misconception in the media and I don’t know why it’s said. He’s a great player and everyone wants to play with great players because we all want to win. He definitely passes the ball. I’m not really sure what else to say about that. It’s just ignorance.”
Many claim Westbrook is a stat padder, steals rebounds from teammates and hunts for assists late in games. Westbrook, who has averaged a triple-double two seasons in a row and won the 2016-17 MVP award, sounded off on those skeptics earlier this year.
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“A lot of people make jokes about whatever, stat-padding or going to get rebounds,” Westbrook said. “If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would. If people get 15 rebounds, they would. People that’s talking or saying whatever they need to say, they should try to do it and see how hard it is. Since everybody wants to be talking, I’m tired of hearing the same old rebound this, stealing rebounds, all this sh*t. I take pride in what I do. I come out and play, and I get the ball faster than someone else gets to it. That’s what it is. If you don’t want it, I’m gonna get it. Simple as that.
“The game will tell you what you need to do. Getting loose rebounds, loose balls, getting on the break is something that’s very, very beneficial to our team and something that in my opinion you can’t stop. Getting a rebound, pushing out, getting it up quick because you can’t scout for that. And it’s something that’s great for our team.
“You just do what you need to do to win. Tonight, if scoring is what it is, then that’s what is. Rebounding then that’s what it is. If it’s passing, then that’s what is, defending. My job is to do everything. And that’s what I do. I go out, do everything, and I do it on a night in and night out basis. Nobody else does the same sh*t I do every night. Simple as that.”
One of the main reasons George re-signed with the Thunder is because he enjoyed playing with Westbrook and built a bond with him off the court. The Thunder are hoping its two stars can lead the team further in the playoffs this season, as OKC was eliminated in the first round of the 2018 postseason by the Utah Jazz.