Michael Carter-Williams needs to stop talking trash to Russell Westbrook
The more Carter-Williams talks, the better Westbrook plays
Trash talking can help some players get going. There have been great trash talkers in NBA history, guys who could affect a matchup simply by saying the right thing. Gary Payton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Garnett immediately come to mind. But even great trash talkers know that it could be a double-edged sword. Sometimes those words only motivate your opponent. Michael Carter-Williams hasn’t learned that lesson yet.
On March 4, Carter-Williams was in the final stretch of his first season in the league. He was a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year despite his team finishing 19-63. He was feeling good after a 17-point, 11-rebound, six-assist game against the Magic. So he decided to talk some trash to Russell Westbrook when his 76ers faced the Thunder. Russ responded by logging a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in only 21 minutes on the court.
Westbrook took the incident in stride, saying of Carter-Williams’ trash talking “I like it. It’s good because that’s how I play anyway. I compete, and that’s what I like to do. He wants to compete as well.”
Carter-Williams’ coach Brett Brown, however, saw things a little different, saying: “It’s always wise to go about your business without instigating an All-Star. I don’t mind Michael being competitive, but how you go about that is always a challenge, and again, a learning curve.”
Brown was right. Carter-Williams was young and he surely learned his lesson after that, right? Don’t talk trash to Russell Westbrook or he will make you look bad. Except on Friday, in the first meeting since that incident, Carter-Williams inexplicably jawed at Westbrook again. Westbrook responded by scoring 27 points in 14 shots to go with five rebounds and seven assists on the Thunder’s win.
“That just added a little bit more fuel to the fire,” Durant warned. “Young dudes in this league tend to bark a lot. I think (Russ) put him in his place, let him know who the best point guard in the league is.”
Westbrook said: “That’s kinda how I play, that’s what I do. If that’s what he wants do, good…They lost.”
Carter-Williams is a fine young player. He’s averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and 6.8 assists per game in his sophomore season. Obviously there’s still a lot he needs to improve upon, namely his shooting and decision-making if he wants to become a great player. He has a lot to learn. We can add “not talking trash to Russell Westbrook” to his to-do list.