Russell Westbrook has never been one to shy away from a challenge. Whether it’s from a teammate, an opposing player, or even a fan — Westbrook is going to take the person that challenges him to task. Usually, this comes in the form of trash talk, but sometimes he’ll match that talk with a spectacular play on the floor as well.
On Saturday, Westbrook did exactly that in the Rockets 120-110 victory over the Jazz. During a play Westbrook was in the corner while James Harden had the ball. After Harden found a driving lane, Jazz big man Rudy Gobert rotated over to stop Harden, and that’s when Westbrook made his move.
A perfectly executed backdoor cut led to an alley-oop for Westbrook, a highlight play for the Rockets in the win. If that was all that happened then it would just be nothing more than a solid play between two extremely talented players, but then a sideline view was shared on Twitter that gave the play a bit of extra context. It turns out that right before the play Westbrook was partaking in some friendly trash talk with a fan. The fan was telling Westbrook to take a 3-pointer, because “Gobert is the best defender in the league” and then Westbrook accelerates for the dunk with Gobert standing right there.
Russell Westbrook on his interaction with a fan before alley-oop: “Before the oop, the guy was telling me ‘Shoot the 3, shoot the 3, Gobert is the best defensive player in the league’. I said ‘Okay, okay, okay’…While he was talking, I just went backdoor” pic.twitter.com/w6KXEP1ToX
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 23, 2020
Moments like this are why it’s hard to not like Westbrook. The exchange with the fan is funny and he takes great joy in showing that fan up on the floor. Westbrook often gets criticized for letting what fans say get to him, but it’s clear that those words can often provide some considerable motivation for him as well. In this case, it was all in good fun.