It feels like yesterday he was the 4th pick of the Seattle Supersonics. Almost like yesterday he played in the NBA Finals alongside the likes of James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant. Like yesterday, he hoisted up the All-Star Game MVP Trophy, twice. Today, Russell Westbrook is the reigning NBA regular season MVP, the owner of the NBA regular season triple-double record, and the leader of an Oklahoma City Thunder team who poses a legitimate threat to take home the 2017-2018 NBA Championship. Oh, and let’s not forget he is a modern-day fashion icon.
Westbrook is certainly an All-Star but not a superstar. Words echoed by Owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban in regards to Russell Westbrook. And then March 27th, 2017 happened. The Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder were facing Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. Down as many as 15 points in the game, the Thunder were down 11 with 2:40 left to go in the fourth quarter on the Mavs home court. Then, as Cuban labeled him, the “All-Star” took over. An offensive rebound and pass from Taj Gibson led to a Westbrook 3-point shot in Harrison Barnes’ face, BANG, 8-point game with 2:34 to go. After a Harrison Barnes missed layup on the other end, Westbrook raced down the court and backed down Yogi Ferrell from the 3-point line all the way into the paint, then hits a turnaround jump shot – AND 1. “He’s outta his mind!” The announcer said in excitement. Next up, was Wesley Matthew’s turn to face Westbrook’s wrath. He and Matthews met at the 3-point line. Westbrook crossed him over then raced to the paint, brushed off some contact, then hit the fade away with less than one minute to go. With 13.6 seconds left, the Mavs were inbounding the ball up by 1. Then the “All-Star” happened, again. Westbrook interfered with the pass, causing the ball to go out of bounds off the J.J. Barea. Thunder ball. 13.1 seconds left in the game. The ball was inbounded to Russell Westbrook. In full Westbrook demeanor, he raced up the court. In fear of Westbrook heading to paint, Matthews retreats too much allowing Westbrook to pull up for the jump shot. You guessed it, BANG, ball game.
That pull up over a defender at the top of the key is a very familiar sight. Reminds me of the 1998 NBA Finals where a certain Chicago Bulls player hit a game winner on the road from that spot. There is no coincidence Westbrook is on the Jordan Brand. His determination to win resembles that same drive Michael Jordan had when on court. And Jordan is only the man considered to be the greatest of all-time. “I got my first MVP award before my first ring, too.” Words by Jordan on Westbrook. It’s only a matter of time before these words become true for Westbrook.
The stars have, literally and figuratively, aligned for Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder with the arrival of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to go along with Steven Adams and the supporting cast. This has the making to be a very special year for the Thunder. We know it won’t be easy and nothing is ever certain in the NBA, or sports for that matter. But there is one thing we can be certain about, and that is when Westbrook steps on that court he is going to give 100% to his team, his city, and his fans.
Career Predictions and Realizations
Prediction: Russell Westbrook will win an NBA Championship before all is said and done.
Realization: Once he captures that title, many will realize and consider him as a top 5 point guard to ever play this game. Considering where he’ll end up statistically, compared to his peers, he just needs that championship to solidify his greatness.
Prediction: He will retire a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and have a statue created in his honor.
Realization: Westbrook will be up there with the Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and the Kobe Bryant’s of the world. Guys who embraced the great moments that happened in the city they played for and never quit when things got tough. Instead, they endured. When you think about, that just makes winning so much sweeter.
They said he doesn’t pass the ball. He averaged 10 assist. They said he’s not a superstar. He won MVP. They said no big name stars will want to play with him. He now plays with two, one of which waived his no-trade clause to make it happen. Now, go on, say he won’t win a championship. I dare you. He will prove you wrong, again. My money is on Westbrook. Because, WHY NOT?
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