Russell Westbrook is an NBA sensation.
I don’t enjoy watching anyone in the NBA more, outside of the occasional James Harden or Anthony Davis explosion. Russ is a 48-minute tornado and the ultimate effort guy. Every single game the superstar guard is priority numero uno on the scouting report and continues to go and get his numbers anyway.
Numbers. It is time that we have figured out that stats are all the man has to offer.
We all love fancy sports cars right? We grow up with Ferrari dreams or coming home in a Lamborghini. Fast sports cars look awesome, they sound loud, and come in fun vibrant colors! What more could you ask for? Well how about one that drives in the winter. Or maybe one that can take a pothole or two. How about not having to fill your tank for $70? When it comes to every day practical life having a sports car as your primary option all of the sudden is not so great.
What does this have to do with Russell Westbrook? He is a sports car. Coming into Monday night’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls he is averaging an astounding 31/10/10 and has been flying through the season with the greatest Oscar Robertson impression of all time. His dunks are fun his faces are fun. His clothing choice is arguable, but it is certainly an eye catcher. The man can do anything in the world it seems, right? Too bad he will never be the primary reason that a team wins a championship.
My issue with Russ is his lack of self-awareness. In his three highest scoring games this season (51, 49, 46) the Oklahoma City Thunder lost two of those three games with the latest coming against the Houston Rockets in a thrilling game that ended in a 3-game losing streak for OKC. There is a difference between being a stat stuffer supreme and being a winner. James Harden was traded due to management taking the more explosive athlete knowing that Harden and Westbrook’s styles couldn’t coexist. Then Kevin Durant left. Now, Russell Westbrook has what he wants. He is the leader of a team where he single-handedly dictates winning or losing on a nightly basis. It has to be an incredible ego booster to lead his team to a 22-16 record to this point as a one man army. I am not impressed. That record is good for 7th in the Western Conference just ahead of the disappointing Portland Trail Blazers.
Every great winner has multiple bells and whistles you can call on. Not only is LeBron James a stat-sheet stuffer, he is also a great leader. Guys take less money to come play with him (IN CLEVELAND!) Guys hold off on retirement to stick it out for one more run with him. Even Kobe Bryant, who was not known as the greatest teammate, got other star level players to come play with him.
Russell Westbrook is worried about Russell Westbrook. And with that, he joins the company of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Allen Iverson, and others of the like who are superstar talents that can never be the number one option on a championship team. As talented as they are is as flawed as they are, and watching stars in sports doomed to that fate is almost like watching a car crash in slow motion.
It is time that the world pegs Russell Westbrook for who he is. Maybe his flaws are also part of what makes him so exciting to watch. Maybe this is the only way he can be. Here’s to the stat sheet stuffers around the world. Hoping that he can figure out how to translate that energy into being a winner.