Russell Westbrook is not the type of dude to walk around talking tough. He rarely, if ever, lets loose on whatever makes him frustrated or angry. He'll display the fiery persona on court, but he's a relatively closed book when it comes to talking about things within his organization or the actions of opponents that irk him.
Well, as my former neighbor with the flavor used to say, things done changed.
During last night's 121-100 smackdown that the Oklahoma City Thunder suffered at the hands of Golden State, the Warriors' Zaza Pachulia got rough and rugged with Russ, sending him to the floor with a flagrant foul.
But he really got foul as Westbrook laid on the ground. Pachulia stepped forward, inches from the prone OKC superstar and proceeded to give him the mad-dog scowl while menacingly standing over him.
I'm not sure which native language he grew up speaking in the Caucasus region of the Georgian Republic at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. But whether he spoke Abkhaz, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Northern Azerbaijani, Bats, Bothan Neo-Aramaic, Georgian, Judeo-Georgian, Northern Kurdish, Laz, Mingrelian, Osetin, Russian, Svan or Urum, it ain't hard to translate body language.
Whatever tongue he used, Pachulia was in full Debo mode, looking at Russ on some "What bike?"-type bully tactics.
In the heat of the moment, Westbrook was oblivious. But after the game, he saw the replay and did not bite his tongue when talking to reporters about his intentions.
"He hit me kinda hard. But it's all right, I'ma get his ass back. Straight up," he said
When asked if he knew that Pachulia was standing over him, Westbrook said, "Nah, I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'ma get his ass back. So, whenever that is, I don't know what it's going to be, but I don't play that game."
Standing over a player that you've knocked to the ground while trying to channel one's inner Rick Mahorn is the fastest way to ignite some basketball beef.
Adam Silver and the NBA brass better be ready the next time these squads meet up on Saturday, February the 11th. Because the line has been drawn. Russ basically said, "Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk, phony all-stars get outlined in chalk, I'm mad vexed, that's what this clown just made me, Rebel to the grain there's no way to barricade me!"
You can talk all you want about the ill will that Golden State harbors towards the Cavaliers and vice-versa. But what we have right here ladies and gentlemen is some certified NBA beef.
And Russ just promised that he'll be steam-rollin' Zaza with the eighteen wheeler like a drunk driver drivin', there's no survivin'!
That man has always seemed to be about his word. So Zaza, you have no one to blame but yourself. You started it. And anyone who knows Russ knows that he's a supreme finisher.
The seeds were planted when KD bolted Oklahoma City for Golden State. But things just got official like a referee with a whistle right now.