- NBA TV
The Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs with a 118-104 win Monday night in Game 5, and it seems as if Mavs owner Mark Cuban may have given the Thunder’s best players some unsolicited pregame motivation.
Before the game, Cuban referred to Kevin Durant as the Thunder’s “one superstar” and downplayed the significance of Russell Westbrook.
“I think he’s an All-Star but not a superstar,” Cuban said (via ESPN).
Westbrook responded with 36 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists in the decisive game.
After the game, Westbrook was asked whether he was aware of Cuban’s comments. Before answering, Westbrook was interrupted by Durant, who took over and said simply, “He’s an idiot.”
“He’s an idiot,” Durant told the media. “Don’t listen to, he’s an idiot. All right, that’s what we’ve got to say about that. He’s an idiot. Next question.”
Here is the entire exchange, and Westbrook just sits and listens.
Cuban’s comments seemed to be derived from the idea that Westbrook has never carried a team the way Dirk Nowitzki has (via ESPN).
You look at Dirk …I’m not going to talk about other teams’ player, I guess other than what I just said, but Dirk for 15 years won 50 games no matter what. We put Moe, Larry, and Curly next to him and we won 50 games. Russ is certainly an All-Star, but I consider Durant a superstar. When you look at Dirk, all those years until now, he carries teams to 50 wins. To me, that’s the sign of a superstar. It wasn’t until we got [Jason] Kidd that we had another Hall of Famer, and even J. Kidd was towards the end of his career. So for  years when Dirk won 50, that’s a superstar. There are only a few guys where you can put them on any team and they win 50 games. To me, that’s the definition of a superstar.
Cuban went on to say how he defined a superstar: “Who do you want the ball in the hands of at the end of a game when you need a bucket? Who do you know that can get off that shot and make that shot?”
By Cuban’s own definition, Nowitzki and Durant are guys who can make that shot and Westbrook is not. Of course, as the Mavs learned the hard way in this series, when Westbrook is playing well – which is quite often – the Thunder rarely need a big shot at the end of the game.