Charles Barkley thinks Russell Westbrook’s press conference antics are ‘unprofessional’
TNT analyst Charles Barkley weighed in on the Russell Westbrook “next-question”-palooza during a Sunday segment of their broadcast of the NBA playoffs. The Oklahoma City Thunder went down into a 3-1 hole to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, but went an even deeper hole in the eyes of the Hall of Famer.
Westbrook continued his press conference antics after Sunday’s loss, toying with The Oklahoman‘s longtime columnist Berry Tramel by not saying “next question,” but instead “good question, I don’t know” to poke the stick even more.
“First of all, that’s unprofessional,” Barkley said. “Part of our job is to talk to the press. We don’t make $30-40 million just to play basketball. People are gonna interrupt you when you have dinner. You have to sign autographs. You have to take pictures. Some of the other stuff is talking to the press. Russ has got to do better. Russ is a great dude. And just because a reporter says something bad about you, you don’t get the right to just say ‘next question.'”
Westbrook’s beef with Tramel can be traced back to the Thunder star intercepting a question for his teammates Steven Adams in the 2017 playoffs, but could date back to a playoff loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013, in which Tramel penned a column titled “Mr. Unreliable,” referring to Westbrook’s then-teammate, Kevin Durant. The Oklahoman later apologized for the headline.
Kenny Smith noted he had a similar incident with Fran Blinebury, then of The Houston Chronicle, but he learned the hard way after ignoring him for several months.
“”There was a reporter, Fran Blinebury, and he had wrote an article, and I didn’t appreciate the article,” Smith said. “So I decided I wouldn’t talk to him. I said, ‘I didn’t appreciate the article.’ Maybe six months into it, I would not talk to this guy, and then I realized I was wrong. I did realize I was wrong, in this sense: It’s his job to write his opinion. Because I don’t agree with his opinion doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to talk to him. I can then express my opinion, and then I can have it out.”
Shaquille O’Neal begged to differ, noting that Westbrook is free to talk to whoever and choose not to talk to any particular media member.
However, there will be a flurry of questions to come if Westbrook and the Thunder go out in Game 5 on Tuesday, making it their third straight first-round playoff exit in the Russell Westbrook regime.