The Oklahoma City Thunder's 104-98 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals was sealed after Russell Westbrook committed a foul on Mario Chalmers when simply playing solid defense would have allowed the Thunder one last chance to tie the game. In analyzing Westbrook's brain fart, I noted that while the primary blame for the gaffe lies with Westbrook himself, Thunder coach Scott Brooks should also be blamed for not communicating the situation to his players properly.
ESPN's Ric Bucher, though, suggested that Brooks actually did tell his players not to foul if they lost the jump ball.
Twittersphere hammering Scott Brooks. I'd swear I saw him tell his team 5 ticks were on shot clock. Every player looked up at it. RW, too.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) June 20, 2012
Then again, after the game, Brooks admitted it could have been a "communication thing" that caused the foul, implying there was some sort of breakdown in his message.
No matter what, it's hard to really absolve anyone for such a lapse in judgment. We can all agree that primary responsibility lies with Westbrook himself. I don't see how anyone can argue that point.
From there, Brooks' own role in the communication breakdown can be debated. On the one hand, Westbrook's lack of preparation for the situation is a reason to tangentially blame Brooks, because players are ultimately the reflection of their coach to some degree. On the other hand, suggesting that Brooks is as much to blame as Westbrook might be a bit much.
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