Throughout their end-to-end, dominant win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Minnesota Timberwolves appeared to take a special level of glee in terrorizing and trash-talking Russell Westbrook. Led by longtime Westbrook foe Patrick Beverley, the Wolves went at the rapidly declining guard over and over from tip-off to buzzer.
It all started in the first quarter, when Beverley called Westbrook “trash” repeatedly while holding his nose like he smelled something stinky, all as the Wolves “defended” — and I use that word loosely — Westbrook with open contempt and disrespect for his jumper.
this Pat Bev/Westbrook sequence. yikes. pic.twitter.com/U3xETxd2KQ— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 17, 2022
Things continued like this for much of the rest of the evening, with Beverley exaggeratedly ducking after a Westbrook airball and Karl Anthony-Towns pantomiming like someone left a door open to let a breeze in and send Westbrook’s jumper askew, all before later waving to Westbrook and the Lakers while exiting the game.
has to be one of the more disrespectful moments ive seen in a long time, watch Pat Bev and KAT after Westbrook’s airball. pic.twitter.com/PnMU3nVd8T— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 17, 2022
LeBron very much not liking it. Remember, it's possible these two teams see each other again in the Play-In— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) March 17, 2022
This is not really surprising coming from Beverley, who has enjoyed the season-long trainwreck that has been Westbrook’s year more than anyone, tweeting trash talk at his old nemesis and claiming that the player whose meniscus he tore in a collision during a near-dead ball helped “damage” his career with his words. So despite the Wolves only making the playoffs nine times in their 33-year existence — and making it out of the first-round just once — and the current roster only having a few scattered playoff appearances between them, their current superiority to the Lakers combined with Beverley and Westbrook’s longstanding beef made it a certainty this group was going to talk trash to the purple and gold.
But even with all that context, even Wolves head coach Chris Finch seemed to think that all the talking got a little out of hand.
Chris Finch: "“I like the fact that we have confidence. I like the fact that we play with a lot of emotion. We also have to realize, like, we have to also mature a little bit and act like we’ve been there before because we have. So far this season we have."— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) March 17, 2022
Westbrook, however, said he didn’t pay attention to it.
“I honestly don’t pay no mind to it. Maybe other guys (do). They weren’t talking to me. They were talking to individual guys, but the trash talking doesn’t bother me none. Nobody over there has done anything in this league,” Westbrook said, stifling a laugh at that last part. “It’s fine. They’re good. They won a game, happy for them, (I’ll) move on to the next one. That’s that.”
Beverley had his own response to that line of thought:
Playoffs every year. 2 western conference finals with 2 different Teams individual stats or team stats? I thought it was a team sport?? https://t.co/wlPhFB9alQ— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) March 17, 2022
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said he had “no comment” on the talk, and LeBron James simply said “it’s part of the game.” Lakers reserve Wayne Ellington agreed, saying that banter is just a part of the NBA.
“I’ve been in this league long enough to realize that it’s a front-running league. When you’re up, everything is going great. When you’re down, they’ll kick you,” Ellington said. “So right now, we’ve been getting kicked, and teams have been enjoying it. It all comes back around full-circle.”