Russell Westbrook-Patrick Beverley feud: Examining guards’ tense history after latest chapter

The week before he held his nose and called Russell Westbrook “trash” during the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ blowout win over the Los Angeles LakersPatrick Beverley said that Westbrook has directly damaged his career. 

On “The Old Man and the Three” podcast with JJ Redick, Beverley said that people around the NBA, coaches and players included, “looked at me differently” after Westbrook took a shot at him in November 2019. (Westbrook said, “Pat Bev trick y’all, man, like he plays defense. He don’t guard nobody, man. It’s just running around, doing nothing.”)

“After that, people were just taking the ball, just going at me,” Beverley said on the podcast. “I’m like, what the f—? All because of what one person said.”

Beverley continued: “He damaged my career. Like, coaching staffs and players, fans, they looked at me way different. They looked at me like, ‘You know what? He don’t play defense. He just yells and runs around.’ And held onto that and held onto that. And some people still do.”

“It’s no fun when the rabbit’s got the gun now,” he told Redick. “And I’m over here with the Minnesota Timberwolves, I’m chilling, I’m trying to get out of this play-in situation and trying to get the sixth seed. Just a real humble tweet. ‘Forgive but not forgotten’ type of thing. Perfect timing too, huh? Trade deadline. Yeah.”

After the Wolves’ 124-104 victory against the Lakers on Wednesday, Westbrook dismissed the (literal) trash talk with some post-game trash talk, saying, “Nobody over there has done anything in this league.” Beverley declined to go back at Westbrook in his press conference, then tweeted about his playoff streak and trips to the conference finals:

Beverley, whose teams have the postseason in every year of his career except 2017-18, when he missed most of the season with a knee injury, tweeted Thursday morning, “We in a positive vibe here in Minnesota.” This is true, especially compared to the Lakers’ increasingly dark situation, but the vibes between him and Westbrook have been negative for years. 

Here’s a brief rundown of everything that happened with them prior to this season:

  • April 24, 2013: In Game 2 of the first-round series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, Beverley tries to steal the ball from Westbrook just before Westbrook calls a timeout. The two collide, Westbrook gets hurt and has season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. 
  • March 11, 2014: In their first meeting after that injury, Beverley slaps the ball out of Westbrook’s hands as Westbrook tries to call a timeout. Westbrook is furious, and Beverley is assessed a technical foul. 
  • April 25, 2017: In Game 5 of another Thunder-Rockets first-round series, they have another heated exchange after a Westbrook foul. After Houston eliminates OKC, it became clear that Westbrook and Beverley disagree about the quality of Beverley’s defense.
  • Oct. 30, 2018: Westbrook repeatedly does his “rock-the-baby” celebration after scoring against Beverley, now a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, early in the game. Later, Beverley does the same celebration after scoring against Dennis Schroder. In the fourth quarter, Beverley dives for a loose ball … right into Westbrook’s legs. A timeout is called, Westbrook lingers near the Clippers’ bench and they get into an altercation. Both are initially given double-technicals, and then the officials review the play and give Beverley a flagrant-1. Beverley says Oklahoma City fans need to let go of their grudge against him, and the mayor responds, “Nope.” (After this incident, both ESPN’s “The Jump” and SB Nation’s “BEEF HISTORY” summarize all of the above.)
  • Nov. 13, 2019: Westbrook says, “Pat Bev trick y’all.” We’ve covered this one already.
  • Dec. 19, 2019: When Beverley fouls out, Westbrook, now a member of the Houston Rockets, waves goodbye and talks some trash, earning a technical foul for his trouble. 

It is difficult to imagine Beverley and Westbrook becoming best buddies, and it is unlikely that Beverley will ever be greeted warmly in Oklahoma City. In Minnesota, however, Beverley is beloved. Since training camp he has set the tone for the team on defense, and he has personified the shift in the Wolves’ demeanor on the court.

“Obviously you know being on the other side, coming into Minnesota, swagless team over the years, not really understanding (their) identity, but this year it’s very different,” Beverley said on Wednesday. “We know exactly who we are. We’re not backing down form anybody. Humbly, though. Very humbly. Not arrogant in that sense. Very comfortable in our skin. We’re not running away from any type of smoke or ducking any type of action. We want to show the league that this is a team that’s going to be talked about for the next couple of years for sure.”

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