One by one, Oklahoma City Thunder players cleared off the practice court. Rookie two-way guard P.J. Dozier finished a round of free throws; Paul George disappeared through a door after shooting about a hundred corner 3-pointers; and head coach Billy Donovan and Steven Adams walked toward the corner corridor after talking pick-and-roll positioning at midcourt.
Underneath a basket across the court, Russell Westbrook sat on a basketball leaned up against the stanchion. Next to him sat Maurice Cheeks, reclined up against the padding next to Westbrook.
With 2Pac’s “I Get Around” popping through the speakers, they sat alone together in the spacious practice facility, talking. It wasn’t an unusual sight; Westbrook and Cheeks are almost always together after practice.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
They routinely compete in free-throw contests against each other — Cheeks wins a lot of them, by the way — and are always connected in conversation.
Knowing what was likely happening in this Westbrook-Cheeks meeting, a couple of staffers couldn’t resist wandering over to join in. Eventually, somehow, a bet was made for Cheeks to race strength trainer Kevin Hyde.
Ready, set, and before “go,” Cheeks took off — a savvy veteran move — and won in a “sprint” from baseline to half-court as Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step” played.
Westbrook, almost assuredly having a hunch, had placed his bet on Cheeks. He roared with pride at his pick.
“Give me my f—ing money!” Westbrook yelled.
The synergy between Westbrook and Cheeks started basically from Day 1, when Cheeks was brought in as a top assistant under Scott Brooks in 2009 with a pretty straightforward job description: Russ.
Westbrook was coming off a rocky rookie season that featured ample criticism, too many turnovers and an outsider belief that he wasn’t actually the team’s point guard of the future. Critics said Westbrook, while he could create moments of brilliance, was too wild to run a team.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
Cheeks went to work quickly, building a unique bond that has remained strong for more than a decade. He became the unofficial Westbrook Whisperer.