Did Russell Westbrook really think the rim was crooked, or was he using brilliant mind-games to psych out the Clippers?
Russell Westbrook is one of the best players in the game. He has proven that by averaging a triple-double for three consecutive seasons.
But there is more to his game than an incredible stat line. He knows how to drill into an opponent’s skull, burrow into his brain, and take up residence there.
He is not quite as good at it as James Harden, but Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, he showed he hasn’t lost his touch since joining the Houston Rockets.
After playing a solid game in the first quarter, Houston was blown out by the Clippers in the second and went into the half down by 15 points, 54-69. If the Rockets were going to win, they needed to diagnose and cure the problem – immediately.
Like, maybe the rim was crooked?
During warm-ups for the second half, Westbrook (maybe Chris Paul isn’t the only cerebral player) didn’t like the look of the rim, so he had the officials come out and check it:
Officials complied with his request since the rim could have been dislodged during the halftime show (assuming it was right in the first half). After breaking out a ladder and setting a level across the rim, it was declared perfect.
The game went on.
Houston overcame the halftime deficit and won by five, 122-117. It was just the second home loss of the season for the Clippers. Russell Westbrook led the way for Houston with a season-high 40-points on the night—25 of which came in the second half.
He must not be dooming the Rockets’ title hopes too much.
Did the short delay help? Who knows. If it bothered any of the Clippers enough that it did get inside their heads, no one would ever admit it. But the Rockets won, so if it did—good.
It seems like an unusual thing for a game to stop so that officials could make sure the rim was level. Professional players are not so childish and petty as to blame the rim because their shot isn’t falling (right?).
Just last month, it happened during a Bucks-Timberwolves game, causing a 40-minute delay. Last year, a Raptors-Nets game was delayed because of a bent rim. The hoop during the Celtics-76ers game in London last year was defective as well.
It’s happened enough that there’s a three-minute compilation video.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:40 PM UTC