THUNDERNOTES: Westbrook-Tramel has become a national story

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates with Paul George after a basket during the second half of Game 3 of the team's NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, April 19, 2019, in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Former Norman Transcript sports editor and longtime Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Tramel has been a personality in the state for some time.

However, lately, his fame has grown and he has Russell Westbrook to thank for it, even though Westbrook hasn’t answered his questions for months.

It all goes back to the night Westbrook made three free throws to send a game against the Los Angeles Lakers to overtime.

Though the Thunder lost, those free throws were a hot postgame topic.

Westbrook took one question about it, but said he didn’t want to talk about free throws. Then Tramel asked where he got the confidence to hit those three after struggling from the free-throw line through the season.

Westbrook said he didn’t want to talk about free throws.

Tramel then said that it appeared Westbrook didn’t want to talk about free throws he’d made or free throws he’d missed.

Ever since, Westbrook has offered “Next question,” to every Tramel inquiry.

Because Tramel was in Portland for Games 1 and 2 and the nation got to hear Westbrook offer his typical treatment to Tramel, in the formality of an interview room rather than a locker room, it’s become a bit of an NBA topic.

Just in the last few days, Tramel has been a guest on NBATV, Dan Patrick’s national radio show and Colin Cowherd’s national radio show to talk about it.

Also, when former Sooner standout Terry Stotts, who is head coach of the Trail Blazers, entered the pregame interview room on Friday, the first thing he said was, “Go ahead, I’ll answer your question, Berry.”

The room broke up.

Then Stotts wondered if KWTV’s Dean Blevins was in the room. Stotts and Blevins overlapped at OU.

Stotts was a Sooner from the 1976-77 basketball season to the 1979-80 season. Blevins played football at OU from 1974 to 1977, and one season of basketball, 1974-75.

• A quarter for the ages: Portland’s Damian Lillard broke free in the third quarter for 25 points, spearheading a 43-point 12-minute stretch for the Trail Blazers, making it the first 40-point quarter OKC had allowed since giving up 40 points in the first quarter to Golden State on March 16, the 70th game of the regular season.

Lillard made 8 of 11 shots, 3 of 4 3-point attempts and 6 of 6 free throws. The Thunder maintained the lead nonetheless by scoring 37 points themselves.

• George due for a breakout: Paul George’s apparent game-ending, buzzer-beating dunk was waived off, meaning George is now 22 of 60 over three playoff games and 8 of 29 from 3-point land.

He’s netted 75 points, total, because he’s gone 23 of 27 from the free-throw line. Still, the Thunder need better field goal and 3-point shooting from their one-time MVP candidate.

• So that happened (twice): Derek Williams, a fan, was given 24 seconds to take as many half court shots as he could during a first-quarter timeout, needing to make one for $20,000.

Running out of time, the MC on the microphone, standing right next to him, yelled “One more shot, one more shot.” Williams had been close on several, most of those off the backboard.

The last one? Swish.

Then, during a second quarter timeout, another fan, Jesse Norman, got his chance. He used the backboard, and won $20,000 with 10 seconds to spare.

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