With the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder preparing to meet in the Western Conference Finals on Sunday, both teams are getting more attention as the playoff stage has risen to the next level.
Earlier this week, Spurs guard Tony Parker made an interesting comment concerning his matchup with Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Parker said Westbrook would have his work cut out for him, because Parker is an attacking style point guard. He said Westbrook had to face Jason Kidd and Ramon Sessions in the Thunder’s previous two matchups, but facing him was going to be a totally different series.
On Thursday, the national media got whiff of these comments and did what the national media does, turned them into a Hollywood drama. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless debated whether Parker’s comments were “smart or dumb” and if they’d motivate Westbrook on Sunday. Take a look.
Here’s the thing, I’m pretty sure Smith and Bayless haven’t been to more than 20 Parker interviews this season. For me, I’ve been in the locker room before and after games and I laughed at how much attention these comments are getting. That was just a case of Parker being Parker. He just states what’s on his mind in a non-derogatory manner. In print, those comments look so negative toward Westbrook, but if you really know how Parker’s interviews normally go, he was just being himself.
Whether or not Westbrook does use these comments as fuel is up to him. Westbrook and Parker both made the All-NBA second team as well on Thursday, they are both aware of how dangerous they can each become on the basketball court. Westbrook might be fueled by the comments and come out super aggressive, but Parker will be ready as well as he’s the team leader of the Spurs this year. Parker sets the tone for how the team will play with the energy level he brings to the game from the start.
Smith and Bayless both had some interesting arguments in their debate, but in my opinion, it’s their job to stir up the Conference Finals. They work for television. Controversial comments by a player bring up the ratings.
The best place to settle this debate is in one place, the basketball court. From now until Sunday, anything a Spurs or Thunder player says will be viewed under a microscope. If one player from either team says anything that is any bit controversial, get ready for more of this drama.