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Russell Westbrook breaks down ejection, being ‘painted as the bad guy’


He knows. Well, sort of. Russell Westbrook just took over the NBA’s league lead with 13 technical fouls and is now just three away from a one-game suspension. Westbrook knows that experience well, having been suspended last season for crossing the threshold. Per the NBA:

Under NBA rules, a player or coach is automatically suspended without pay for one game once he receives his 16th technical foul during a regular season. For every two additional technical fouls received during that regular season, the player or coach will be automatically suspended without pay for an additional game.

For his career, Westbrook has 132 technical fouls and eight ejections, and has had two seasons with 17 technical fouls. With his two technical fouls on Thursday, it marked the fifth time Westbrook has crossed the 13-technical threshold in a season, and the first time he’s been ejected more than once in a season.

After the game, Westbrook broke down how he viewed the situation, and why he was aggrieved.

Here’s his analysis of the situation, which he described as boiling down to a hard foul on Lee, and the two jawing with each other. Then he said he was instructed by the referees to walk towards the Warriors’ bench (he clarified that they said to walk away from the situation, and he chose to walk toward the Warriors bench), at which point a Warriors player asked him why he was doing that, and Westbrook responded by saying, ‘What you say?’ and then a scrum ensued. Then, he walked into Kevon Looney:

I think it’s a situation where I hold myself to a very, very high standard. And I think the refs, the fans, media, the NBA, I’m put into a position now that I’m not allowed to really do much. Obviously, I’m an emotional guy but if you watch the clip, obviously I hit Lee, but it wasn’t on purpose. I’m going to glass, he got hit. He said something to me, I said something to him. I’m standing there. The guy comes, snatches the ball out my hand. Guys come running to me, I didn’t move.

But I’m always the one that gets painted to be the bad guy in the whole situation. Then they asked me to walk towards the Warriors bench — he clarified after, saying, ‘They just told me to walk away from the situation, so I just moved to move out of the situation and mind my business’ — so I’m just over there walking to the bench. And then one of the little young fellas, tell me ‘Why you walking over here talking to me?’

And I turned around I said, ‘What you say?’ And now everybody’s run over to me. And I’m walking towards the thing, then Looney steps in front of me. So it’s like, I’m always I feel like I’m in a position that Iike, ‘Oh, well, Russ is being Russ,’ which nobody knows what that means.

But I gotta do a better job of holding myself accountable to a very, very high standard. And I’ll make sure I leave no room for error to allow somebody and people to paint me out to be a guy that I’m not. I just think it’s unfair. It’s unfair, though, that after all that, I’m only one that gets a tech or kicked out.

That’s not fair. I don’t care what nobody says. It’s so many other people involved in it and doing so many things that weren’t okay. But I’m the one that gets attacked gets ejected and everybody else has to go back somewhere. But like I said, I take responsibility for that and I hold myself to a very high standard.

Westbrook said he knows he has to manage his 13 technicals, and showed some self-awareness in that he said he needs to be better at controlling himself and wants to be wary of how that may affect his legacy (and be aware of his children watching the game):

“You obviously got to be aware of it. I’ll look at them and see which ones are actually real technical fouls and which ones are not and then figure out how to do it, but I’ll be fine…

I just gotta control myself, but I’m not backing down. I wasn’t raised that way. So I don’t back down to nobody but God. That’s it. For no man but God. I’m going to always protect myself, but I also got to be smart and understand what’s on the line for me and what’s my legacy. Who’s watching me, my kids and my family, and make sure I’m representing my family very, very well.”

Westbrook continued to say that he feels that he’s been treated unfairly by referees, but it’s on him to not react:

“If you watch the game, I played the whole game I didn’t shoot a free throw. I’m at the basket more than probably anybody since I’ve been in the league. I get no free throws today. Ideally, I just gotta keep going. There’s no protecting myself.

And that’s just what it is, you know, I mean, I’m okay with it. I’m a guy that’s going to compete every single night and go out and play my game and find ways to be effective and they blow the whistle, they do, they don’t, who cares? I cannot allow it to affect who I am as a person and what I’m representing and who I am, so that’s on me.”

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