NBA star Russell Westbrook has a habit of being cold to the media -- to the point it may be fair to wonder if his mouth is sometimes frozen shut -- but in addition to Westbrook's continuing feud with The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, a reporter with The Athletic agreed the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard was the most difficult athlete she's ever dealt with.
On Sunday, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave his take on Westbrook’s “next question” non-response spiel to Tramel’s questioning, calling Westbrook's press conference act “dangerous.” The feud between Westbrook and Tramel dates back at least to 2015, when Westbrook bluntly told the columnist, “I just don’t like you.”
"I just feel that we have to be very careful as a league," Kerr said, according to The Athletic. "We're in a good place right now. Very popular. Fans love the game, the social dynamic, the fashion. But more than anything they love the connection they feel to the players. I think it's important for the players to understand that it’s a key dynamic to this league. I don't think this is a healthy dynamic, for this league, for any player, any team, any local media, any national media.”
He added: "It's all part of the business. You've got to feed information to the fans. You don't have to give a great answer, but it's dangerous when you go down that path of no communication because one of the reasons people like the league right now is we have a lot of great players, really good guys who handle themselves well. So don't kill that. You've got to keep that going. That's a big part of the business."
Molly Knight, a reporter with The Athletic, opened up about her experience attempting to extract answers from Westbrook.
“I’ve never dealt with a more difficult athlete,” she tweeted. “Second place isn’t close.”
The journalist said she traveled to Oklahoma City to interview Westbrook about his new sneaker -- but her attempted interview of Westbrook started rocky and only got worse.
“He [Westbrook] was contractually obligated to answer softball questions. Wouldn’t look at me. Flipped a magazine the entire time. I finally walked out. Wasted a day of my life,” “The Best Team Money Can Buy” author wrote of the experience.
Knight said the 2016-2017 NBA’s Most Valuable Player “looks at the media members as sub-human” and applauded Kerr for speaking up. She said her interaction with Westbrook occurred three years ago.
“I don’t need a cookie or a pat on the head. I’m not special,” she wrote. “This happened three years ago and I never would have shared this story if not for Steve Kerr speaking out. He’s right.”
Knight said that many don’t share their experiences in fear of losing their media access.
“But at a certain point you have to step back and go, wow, this is messed up. We’re all human beings just trying our best. Nobody is inherently better than anyone else,” she tweeted.
She concluded her thread saying, “Anyway, bring on the death threats!!!!”
On Tuesday night, Westbrook and Oklahoma City were ousted from the playoffs after the Portland Trail Blazers won the series in five games.