Russell Westbrook is one of the most intensely driven and competitive players in the NBA today. When somebody rattles his cage, he doesn't just let it go quietly.
During the regular season Westbrook and former teammate, now Detroit Pistons guard, Reggie Jackson, ignited a rivalry that may have been brewing since their time at the Chesapeake Energy Arena together.
Jackson was the back-to-back All-Star game MVP's understudy during that time, but now that he is the main man in Detroit, the Italian-born 26-year-old appears to have a chip on his shoulder having moved out of Westbrook's shadow.
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Nazr Mohammed, an 18-year veteran center in the NBA, came out of retirement to sign for the Thunder for a second time in March of this year. The 38-year-old spilt the beans on a Westbrook story during his exit interview on Wednesday that gives a little bit of an insight into the disdain his teammate has for the departed Jackson.
"I mean, what's the game when we were playing against — I hate to mention his name, when we were playing against Detroit," Mohammed said. "It was nice to see a game where sometimes they expect you to sit out, but I love to see Russ like, 'Sit out against Reggie? I want to play.' I love seeing stuff like that, and then go out there — I love how Russ looks at the opposing point guard and he wants to kill everybody. I love it."
It's no surprise that Westbrook refused to take his place on the bench, even though both Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka were confined to the pine at the time in question.
During the season, Jackson celebrated in over-the-top fashion after the Pistons beat the Thunder and Westbrook said, "It was some real bulls—," which led to a back-and-forth in the media that truly highlighted the ongoing feud.
"I mean, they've had their words, it's not like I'm bringing up something," Mohammed continued. "He's playing against Reggie. Russ wants to go out there, like okay, he was here, you're gone, you said some things, I want to play. This is just my assumption. Russ didn't tell me this, but this is just me looking over at him putting on a jersey when I thought he was going to sit out, and he was like, no, I'm ready to go. I love it, though. That's what it's all about."
Jackson tweeted out a smirking emoji following the Thunder's loss to the Golden State Warriors in seven games, which could be interpreted as a dig at his former employers.
If that was the case, it would be pretty rich considering the Pistons exited the playoffs in the first round to the Cleveland Cavaliers; a matchup where they were swept, in fact.
Regardless of Jackson's intentions, don't expect this to be the last you hear of this pair of proud guards.