Following the Warriors' 113-105 Game 4 win over the Clippers on Sunday, Steve Kerr broke from talking about his team to address the fact that Russell Westbrook keeps tossing out the line "Next question," in response to reporters (especially local beat guy Berry Tramel) following OKC games. Perhaps of more concern to those looking at the bigger picture is the idea that these non-answers will spread:
"I just feel that we have to be very careful as a league. We're in a good place right now," said the Golden State coach. "Very popular. Fans love the game, the social dynamic, the fashion. But more than anything they love the connection they feel to the players. I think it's important for the players to understand that it's a key dynamic to this league. I don't think this is a healthy dynamic, for this league, for any player, any team, and local media, any national media."
Kerr acknowledged that athletes being flippant with media isn't exactly a new phenomenon, nor are cliché and unimaginative questions from reporters, but he said that the landscape has changed due to the rise of social media and the constant access it provides to players for fans. Also, he pointed out what should be obvious, which is that dealing with the media is just part of being a pro athlete.
"There's always been this stuff. There's always been players and media members having issues and maybe non-responses, whatever," Kerr added. "I don't think this is brand new, but we're in an era where there's 24/7 access, and that access is what's driven revenue so much and players need to remember that."
Commissioner Adam Silver is yet to publicly address the issue.
The league requires practices be open to media, as are locker rooms prior to games, and that players need to be available after games too (you probably figured they weren't just waiting around for fun).
"You've got to feed information to the fans," Kerr said. "You don't have to give a great answer, but it's dangerous when you go down the path of no communication because one of the reasons people like the league right now is we have a lot of great players, really good guys who handle themselves well. So don't kill that. You've got to keep that going. That's a big part of the business."
The aforementioned Tramel and Westbrook have history, with the former writing in a recent column that he'd continue to question Westbrook "with no hope of getting an answer, because the media shouldn't give in to Westbrook's desire to control everything."
Tramel went on to write that Westbrook's main issue is his lack of control over the media, prior to citing an instance where Westbrook wouldn't let teammate Steven Adams answer a question about why OKC "collapsed" in the 2017 playoffs when Westbrook was on the bench during their futile series against the Rockets.
From there Tramel went on to say that the rift between him and Westbrook isn't personal and that Westbrook's "issue is with media in general," adding "It's too late — far too late — to do anything about it now. But Westbrook has been disrespectful to the Oklahoma City media going back almost a decade. And the OKC media has not been disrespectful back."