FS1’s Shannon Sharpe gave credit to Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook, while also throwing shade at Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.
Russell Westbrook‘s first season with the Houston Rockets was largely a success, as the Rockets finished with the fourth seed in the Western Conference and were eliminated by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. This was in lieu of rumors throughout the season that former coach Mike D’Antoni was going to be parting ways with the franchise, in addition to the Rockets’ decision to alter their strategy mid-season by trading away center Clint Capela.
Westbrook was coming off an impressive 11-year run with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as he reached the NBA Finals, led the league in scoring twice, made eight All-NBA teams, and was named to eight All-Star teams. Westbrook and Kevin Durant were one of the best young duos in the league during their playing days together before Durant left to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016, and later joined the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.
The popular belief among many in the basketball world was that Durant was the leader of those Thunder teams, as Westbrook was often criticized and described as a selfish ballhog, which is a description that’s been disputed by several of his former Thunder teammates.
During a recent episode of Undisputed, FS1’s Shannon Sharpe recently hinted that Durant was actually being led by Westbrook, while further stating that Durant doesn’t know how to lead.
“[The Nets] have two guys that don’t know how to be a leader. Because the leader in OKC was you know who. The leader in Golden State was you know who.”
Sharpe credits Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook, jabs Kevin Durant
Sharpe didn’t hold back in his assessment of Durant, and although he didn’t directly state who the leader was in OKC, it can be implied that he was talking about Westbrook. It was especially evident that Westbrook was the better leader between the two players following Durant’s departure, as the Thunder made the postseason in all three seasons after Durant’s departure.
Westbrook also led the league in assists in consecutive seasons without Durant and won the MVP in OKC’s first season without Durant. Westbrook went to bat for his OKC teammates on multiple occasions, including one that led to a longstanding feud with Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman following OKC’s Game 4 playoff loss to the Houston Rockets in the 2017 Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Tramel’s repeated attempts to separate Westbrook from the rest of the team led to Westbrook becoming upset and reminding Tramel of the team-first mentality that The Brodie has.
“I don’t want anybody to try to split us up. We’re all one team. We’re in this together. Don’t split us up.
Don’t try to make us go against each other or try to make it Russell against the rest of the guys or Russell against Houston. I don’t want to hear that.
We’re in this together, we play as a team, and that’s all that matters. That’s it.”
Considering how Westbrook was able to hold down the fort without Durant, while being the clearly-defined franchise player in Oklahoma City, it seems clear that Shannon Sharpe was right about Russ having been the true leader throughout the entirety of his career with the Thunder.