Raymond Felton’s Take on Russell Westbrook

It's seldom that we see NBA players publicly critiquing the decisions and behaviors of other players. Usually, they are a tight knit community whose inhabitants are known to cover one another's backs and work for the better good of the league; which is what makes Felton's analysis and critique of Westbrook a little suprising.

But, really—Someone had to say something. And what Felton said makes a lot of sense, of course, too, so how could Westbrook take offense?

This is what Felton had to say:

That's the type of guy he is, that's his mindset, that's how he plays…He's always in a one-on-one battle with all the point guards. I'm not really into that. I'm into winning. If you win, everybody gets the praises. We are not wearing 'Felton' on the front of our jerseys; it says Blazers. I care about the Blazers winning.

The words do come across as pretty harsh, though, don't they? His insinuation of course is that Westbrook cares more about the "name on the back of his jersey than the name on the front," as the saying goes, that there is no 'I' in team, and the whole gambit of expressions that apply to players perceived to be self-focused and uninterested in team success.

I have trouble believing Westbrook is one of those players, though. I think ultimately we're talking about a guy who has fallen in love with his own game and is extremely confident—even cocky.

Westbrook's approach towards running the Thunder's offense the way he did in the playoffs was pretty abominable. There's not really any excuse for any player to attempt over 30 field goals, except maybe Allen Iverson during his Sixer days, or other such one man teams that were more blatantly formed in that fashion—not teams like the Thunder who have a host of weapons and the league's leading scorer flanking the wing.

While Felton's criticism come across very harsh, Westbrook can at least thank his lucky stars that his coach Scott Brooks is standing behind him…

Following the loss to the Blazers, Brooks said he thought Westbrook played "one of his best games…" and "left it all on the court." And, to some degree, that is what matters. Westbrook is a hardworking player focused on greatness. Let's just hope he keeps in mind that it is team greatness that impresses in the long run.

In the me-first era of sports that has extended back for a debatable number of years, we've seen a lot of players like Westbrook, but I also feel he is the kind of young guy who can adapt to criticism rather than run from it. I don't think he is the bull headed type that is going to react adversely to the words said by Felton, and it is good that Brooks is standing behind his All-Star point guard.

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Updated Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012