Westbrook on Reggie Jackson's celebration: 'Some real bulls***'

Reggie Jackson celebrates. Russell Westbrook seethes. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
Reggie Jackson celebrates. Russell Westbrook seethes. (AP/Carlos Osorio)

The Detroit Pistons beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, 88-82, to move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, a half-game ahead of the Indiana Pacers, who once again lost in the closing seconds to Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls. It was a very big win for a Pistons team trying to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Granted, beating OKC on the second night of a road back-to-back when they were playing without superstar Kevin Durant and defensive ace Serge Ibaka, both of whom got the night off to rest, isn't quite the same as knocking off the full-strength Thunder. But that in no way diminished how much Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson — who, as you might remember, spent the first 3 1/2 seasons of his career in Oklahoma City, and left on unfriendly terms — enjoyed the final seconds of the victory:

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As Jackson exhorted the Palace faithful after scoring eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to help Detroit finish off the win, Thunder big man Steven Adams seemed to make a point of informing his former teammate that he didn't appreciate the histrionics. After the final buzzer, Jackson downplayed the incident — "He just said a few words. He said a few words, I said a few words." — but Adams' similarly muted response 100 percent did not downplay anything:

While Adams said he'd "keep [Jackson's behavior] up here" for future meetings, Thunder star Russell Westbrook — whom Jackson backed up in OKC, and who missed 20 of his 28 shots in a down game as he struggled to carry a shorthanded squad wholly dependent on his shot creation — seemed plenty comfortable sharing his feelings on what transpired (warning: some not-suitable-for-work language follows):

Yeah, I did [take exception to Jackson's celebration], actually. Honestly, I think it's some real bulls***. I don't appreciate it for our team and our organization. I don't like it at all. But, you know, it is what it is. We'll see him down the line. We'll take care of that when we get there.

On whether the way Jackson left the Thunder is the source of the frustration with his celebration:

I mean, you know, it doesn't matter. Honestly, he wasn't changing nothing for us. Obviously, he didn't want to be here. He's at a better spot. He's not doing too much of a difference, if you ask me. He's going to stay over here in Detroit, and we're going to stay over here. We'll see him next season.


Unless, of course, the Thunder and Pistons meet in the Finals!

On one hand, it's pretty funny to hear celebration criticisms from the man who has brought us moves like these:



On the other, though, Westbrook's hard feelings are perfectly in keeping with the Thunder's overarching attitude toward Jackson since the run-up to his departure at the 2015 trade deadline in a three-team deal that landed Enes Kanter in Oklahoma City. From a Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman:

Rather famously, Jackson and the Thunder went through a sour break-up last season. He wanted a starting role, to be the star of a team, and that was something OKC couldn't offer. For months, Jackson was vocal about it both inside and outside the locker room, creating a growing divide within a frustrated team. He'd write 'SPG' on his shoes, for starting point guard, even with Westbrook on his team.

In early January 2015, the Thunder traded for Dion Waiters — a clear Jackson replacement. And at the time of the deal, it was initially reported that Jackson was off to New York. He heard the news while on a road trip at Golden State and initially said he was relieved. But it wasn't true. Jackson remained on the team for another acrimonious month until eventually the Thunder obliged, shipping him to Detroit in February.

During their first meeting this season, the Thunder beat the Pistons at home. After the game, when asked about Jackson, Westbrook said ‘Who?' before referring to him as “just another player on another team.”


The strained dynamic in the Thunder locker room — which reportedly included a "cliquish aspect" in which out-of-favor youngsters Jackson, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb all had lockers together on one side of the room while Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka — manifested in an odd bit of indirect confrontation between Jackson and Westbrook, as detailed last spring by Grantland's Bryan Curtis:

But Westbrook can also be unnecessarily harsh on reporters. One night, a game ran late. Darnell Mayberry, the Oklahoman’s senior Thunder reporter, was up against deadline. He brought his laptop into the locker room to move quotes directly from the players’ lips to his copy. Mayberry sat in a chair in front of an empty locker. Westbrook saw him and told him the chairs were for players only.

Mayberry got up. But then a funny thing happened. Backup point guard Reggie Jackson took his chair, wheeled it across the locker room, and offered it to Mayberry. Remember that when you wonder why Jackson now plays for the Pistons.

The friction went beyond furniture, though, and when Jackson finally did get shipped out, few tears were shed, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com:


There was no send-off for Jackson. Not hard to read between those lines. And if they were still blurred, here's what Durant said Thursday night after the Thunder waxed the Mavericks without Jackson:

"We felt like everybody wanted to be here except for one guy," he said. [...]

Jackson may elevate into an All-Star-caliber player. He has massive potential, a dogged work ethic and an especially strong belief in himself. He simply couldn't be the player he saw himself as with the Thunder.

As Durant said Thursday, "He got what he wanted. You can't really --." He paused for a second to think. But he'd already said all that needed to be said.

"He got what he wanted," he repeated.


Hard to argue with that. Jackson's now the unquestioned starting point guard in Detroit, with an $80 million contract, star-level scoring and playmaking numbers, and all the touches he can handle. He's got the full confidence and backing of head coach and team president Stan Van Gundy — even if it doesn't always look that way — and a chance to lead a team of his own into the postseason for the first time in his career. No wonder he's dancing.

Then again, things haven't worked out too poorly for the Thunder, either. With Westbrook producing at historic levels and Durant looking every ounce of his MVP self, Oklahoma City's got 50 wins for the fifth time in the last six full seasons (they won 47 in the lockout-shortened 2010-11 campaign), are all but locked into the No. 3 seed in the West, are playing arguably their best ball of the season as the playoffs near and loom as the single scariest threat to the Western kingpins in Golden State and San Antonio. They're not a title favorite, but then, maybe that's for the best; few things would seem to be better for the Thunder's chances than KD and Russ entering the postseason feeling ticked off about being overlooked and underappreciated.

Whatever comes to pass this postseason, though, we now know that Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder will carry a very specific chip on their shoulders the next time they take on the Pistons. Maybe it'll help them prevent unwelcome celebrations the old-fashioned way: by not losing.

Hat-tip to Reddit user RAL1091 on the Jackson celebration video.


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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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