We often hear NBA players refer to the "brotherhood", a relatively unspoken bond between a society of people linked by a common interest and trade.
On its surface, the brotherhood stands for unity and solidarity between players. But if you dig a little deeper, the brotherhood acts as an all encompassing sign of respect between the 450 best basketball players in the world. A player must dedicate his life to the game to make the NBA, and each player knows of the sacrifices it takes to compete at the highest level.
Enter Russell Westbrook. A fiery competitor with the heart of a lion. After losing a potential series clinching Game 5 at Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant and Westbrook were asked to comment on the defensive abilities of Stephen Curry:
Westbrook couldn't help but giggle at the idea of even commenting on Curry's defense. And to be fair, there is really no great way to answer this type of probing question — not for Westbrook anyways.
You see, Westbrook is a rarity in today's age of increasingly buddy-buddy relationships between opposing players. He doesn't want to be your friend, he just wants to win and I respect him for that. But the thing is, Westbrook is even more confident in his abilities as a basketball player.
Hence his chuckle.
One can only imagine what he was thinking to himself after Curry's defense was brought up. Is his defense underrated? Who cares, he can't stop me anyways, which, to his credit, is true. There simply are not very many players who can stop Westbrook when he has a full head of steam towards the basket.
"Our current NBA moment was once assumed to be the Thunder's era of Western Conference dominance, until the Warriors rose from nothing. So there we were, with the Durant-Westbrook Thunder apparently on the verge of snatching their era back. In that context, Westbrook's snicker about Curry's defense becomes more understandable if not less arrogant."
Westbrook's passion and confidence (we can throw arrogance in there too), both on and off the court, is what makes him the great player he is. He truly believes that he is better than Steph Curry, as he should. But in this case, the way he went about showing this confidence may have cost him and his team a trip to the NBA Finals.
He apparently thinks so lowly of Curry's game that he can't even listen to the question while keeping a straight face. It was a blatant sign of disrespect.
"The Warriors are the defending champions. They won 73 regular season games. You can't do either of those things without pride. And they saw the video — make no mistake, they saw Westbrook's hubris more than once. There was the guy who hadn't won anything laughing at the league's first-ever unanimous MVP. The context didn't matter — the message of disrespect was clear."
Curry is not the type of person to fire back or even acknowledge others' comments. However, Westbrook sent a strong message to Curry and the entire Warriors team with his laugh. And that message was clear: I don't respect your game.
"Honestly, I could care less about other people's opinions about me," Curry said after Game 5. "I know what I do for my team and what my teammates expect of me on both ends of the floor."
However Curry's true response came on the hardwood.
The back-to-back MVP went on to torch Westbrook the rest of the series. Curry scored 31 points and was an assist shy of a triple-double in game 6. He then dropped 36 points and eight assists in the Warriors series clinching win which included a game 7 playoff record seven made three-pointers.
Confidence is key to success, but in this case, Westbrook's confidence was the dagger Steph Curry used to slay the Thunder. It was a head scratching answer that left Westbrook short of proving that he was a championship point guard. In the end, Curry's game speaks the loudest.
laughed at the bro & now going home. That's why we stay unbo- nvm y'all know lol— Sydel Curry (@sydelcurry) May 31, 2016