Russell Westbrook can put fear into any opposing player who tries to stand in his way these days. But he’s got nothing on the spirits haunting visiting NBA players at the famous Skirvin Hilton Hotel – a list that now includes the Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson.
Both were so scared last season about all the ghost stories they had heard, they traded in their private suites to share one room with dual queen beds. This year, Winslow, 20, and Johnson, 24, are trying to tough it out and be men about it.
But that could change after what happened to Winslow Sunday morning. The 20-year-old forward said he was in the shower around 9 a.m. when the door to his bathroom began moving on its own.
“That really happened,” said Winslow, who also wasn’t too happy about the bugs in his room and roach he found in his shower curtain.
“I'm just trying to get through this trip as quickly as possible. I try and spend the least amount of time in my room. I go down, sit at the bar, get me something good to eat, watch TV, watch football, but I don't spend a lot of time in that room.”
Johnson said former Heat teammate Gerald Green, now with the Celtics, was the first person to tell him about the Skirvin being haunted last season. Johnson said Green told him how when he was with another team he had to share a room with a teammate because of noises they had heard in the night.
Over the years, many NBA players have shared their own tales including Derrick Rose. Last week, Lakers forward Metta World Peace said a ghost at the hotel inappropriately touched him. Some players have actually paid out of their own pocket over the years to stay elsewhere.
According to legend, the ghost who has haunted many male guests at the hotel, known as "Effie," had an affair with the man who built the building, oilman W.B. Skirvin back in 1910. In order to prevent a scandal, Skirvin allegedly locked her in a room on the top floor of the hotel.
The story goes that Effie grew so depressed after the birth of her child she threw herself, along with the baby, out of the window from the 10th floor. Many men who have stayed at the hotel have since reported being propositioned by a female voice while alone in their rooms. Others have seen the figure of a naked woman with them while taking a shower.
“I don’t like them spirits and all that stuff, I don’t like to play around with it,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s a little bit safer knowing somebody’s there."
Johnson said he feared the dark so much as a kid he used to turn all the lights in his house on when he was alone and would sit downstairs because he didn’t want to be upstairs by himself. Even now, Johnson said, he won’t watch scary movies or go to haunted houses. He also likes having a night light on when he sleeps.
“It’s a little bit more comforting to have a light somewhere,” he said.
Point guard Goran Dragic, who said Winslow and Johnson decided to room together last year because one of them heard the faucet turn on by itself in the middle of the night, said he doesn’t believe the ghost stories. Neither does 14-year-veteran and Heat captain Udonis Haslem.
“I ain’t scared of no ghost,” Haslem said. “A ghost will have a helluva time – he might as well go to another room because he’ll have the fight of his life if he comes to my room. It will cost him so much trouble he’ll just say I’m just going to the next room. He’ll say, not tonight, this ain’t the room I need to be in.”
▪ Coach Erik Spoelstra said he won’t necessarily put a restriction on Josh Richardson’s minutes moving forward but he “won’t play him a ton of minutes” either Monday. Richardson played 12 scoreless minutes in his first game Friday in Toronto after missing two months with a sprained MCL in his right knee and said Sunday he woke up feeling good the day after.
“I just know I've got to slow my mind down because the game moves so fast especially when you've been away from it for so long,” said Richardson, who was 0-for-4 from the field with a rebound, a steal and two turnovers. “That was my biggest thing -- just slowing things down with the ball in my hands and on defense, seeing things I think would be happening in the actions.”
▪ Center Hassan Whiteside said he and his new 1,500 gallon fish tank will be featured in Friday’s episode of Tanked on Animal Planet, which airs at 10 p.m. Whiteside said he has about 45 fish in his new tank.
Monday: Heat (2-3) at Thunder (5-1)
When/where: 8 p.m., Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790, WAQI 710 (Spanish)
Series: Thunder lead 34-22
Scouting report: Russell Westbrook ranks third in the NBA in scoring (33.2 points per game) and has posted three triple-doubles in his first six games. The Thunder rank second in the league in points in the paint (53.3 per game) while the Heat, led by Whiteside, lead the league in rim protection (38.4%) and opposing field goal percentage (40.7%).