The Evolution: Russell Westbrook

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Monday, October 29, 2012 with 4 comments
The media would like us to be believe one perceived fact when there's actually another one brewing.  Throughout the NBA off season, a wave of truth has washed over loyal NBA fans and bloggers around the world and that truth is based on the true perception of one Russell Westbrook.  He's an egnigma, aggressive, passionate and plays with a fearlessness that's akin to a young Dwyane Wade and sadly enough he's played out of position thus far in his young NBA career.  Thus far the career of Russell Westbrook has been defined by what if's.  What if the Seattle Supersonics hadn't drafted him "They became the OKC Thunder six days after that years' draft."?  What if Westbrook didn't have to defer to Kevin Durant?  What if Westbrook played the 2 guard versus the point guard position?  These questions will seemingly haunt Westbrook for the remainder of his NBA career but there's still time to salvage what may be one of the greatest NBA careers at the 2 guard position.

Genesis

There's always a backstory something that fuels everyman to strive to be better, motivates him to push through even when the situation seems like a lost cause.  KB3 is that motivation for Russell Westbrook and to this day at every second that Westbrook takes an NBA court, KB3 is always with him.  Khelcey Barrs III grew up with Westbrook in Long Beach, California and the two were inseparable.  As freshmen at Leuzinger High School, Westbrook and Barrs III were able to make the varsity basketball team.  The two had dreams of attending UCLA once they were to graduate from high school and then make it to the NBA together.  Unfortunately their dream never materialized due to an unknown medical issue that Bars III was suffering from.  The pair's high-school coach Reggie Morris at the time decided to take them to Los Angeles Southwest College to play against seasoned college players when tragedy occurred.  Barrs III collapsed after a game and later passed away due to an enlarged heart.  He was 16 years of age and his death left  Westbrook devastated.  In order to judge a man, one must know the man and many have wrongly judged Westbrook based on his perceived playing style but there is a more sinister crime that has taken place behind the scene.

Media Manipulation

The dynamic between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant is a very delicate balance.  One is always cool, calm, and collected while the other is the emotional leader of the team.  Durant arrived first and became the media darling, the anti Kobe Bryant or LeBron James if you will.  He was picked to carry the torch in the NBA along with Derrick Rose as they were considered young, hungry, but always controllable and honestly non threatening.  Two seasons ago, Westbrook began to assert himself as a leader on the court as most great point guards do.  The ball is always in his hands as he sets the offense up based on the off the ball movements of his teammates and then there are those times when Westbrook breaks the offense and looks for his own shot, it's always his call and that's what point guards do.  

The media saw the growth/potential in Westbrook and it threatened their planned crowning of Durant.  Does anyone remember the media's coverage of Durant after he led Team USA to the gold medal in the 2010 World Championships?  He was next in line to possibly become the MVP, that is until Derrick Rose stole his thunder....no pun intended.  Westbrook was on that version of Team USA as well after beating out Rajon Rondo for the final guard spot "Rondo left before he could be officially cut from the team citing personal reasons".  It was then when the tsunami known as Russell Westbrook begin as a mere ripple in the water but as he gained strength so did the media's anti Westbrook sentiment.  

Understanding that they couldn't suppress his talent because that would've been too blatant, the media began a mission to discredit the Westbrook effect.  The seeds had begun to be planted as one would hear things like "He's uncontrollable, un-coachable, a great athlete but not a good basketball player, he doesn't pass enough, or he shoots too much."  While watching the Oklahoma City Thunder play one could hear any of those phrases as the media would try to suppress the contributions that Westbrook made to the team.  It even reached a boiling point where the media would wait for an potential flare up between the two superstars as they created the false illusion of dissension between to the two very good friends.  Kevin Durant has even addressed the dynamic between himself and Westbrook a few times to shoot down any perception that the two actually don't get along.  It was almost as if the media were implementing a divide and conquer plan between the two stars ala Kevin Garnett and Stephan Marbury 15 years prior but this time even that strategy didn't work.    




Reflections of an MVP

One can't help to think what life would be like for Russell Westbrook if he were playing for lets say the Chicago Bulls.  Bigger, faster, stronger and much more durable than Derrick Rose and with just as much heart, is it too far fetched of an idea to think that Westbrook could have been a MVP if he'd played for the Bulls during the 2010/11 NBA season?  The two are almost mirror images when it comes to court play but off the court is another matter.  Rose is held to the same social status that Durant is while Westbrook is still considered that of a bad guy, selfish, not a team player.  Make no mistake about it, Derrick Rose was the rightful MVP of the 2010/11 season but below will be a comparison of Rose's MVP season and the same season for Westbrook.  

Rose:

25 ppg, 7.7 apg, 1 spg 4.1 rpg, .44 fg%, .33 3p%

Westbrook:

22 ppg, 8.3 apg, 2 spg, 4.6 rpg, .42 fg%, .33 3p%

Above was just a sample size of the 2010/11 NBA season and what's exciting is that their career numbers match even more close.  The idea that Westbrook playing for the Bulls and perhaps winning the MVP isn't as far fetched as some may make it seen and then when you consider that Westbrook has never missed a game in his basketball career "high school-NBA" thus far, the Bulls may have even won a championship with Westbrook at the helm.  Take nothing away from Derrick Rose, he's one hell  of a player and a Godsend for the fans in Chicago and Bulls fans all around the world, but Westbrook has to be seen in a new light going forward.  

The Ascension

In life the notion of what ifs, what could have been, and what could be dominate the news and entertainment industry, the same mindset applies to that of professional athletes.  The wave of truth that is the perception of Russell Westbrook is coming as real fans of the game know and understand that potential of Westbrook is boundless.  He wasn't dealt the hand of Derrick Rose who was fortunate to be drafted as "the guy" Westbrook instead was drafted to a team with the newly crowned "guy" and he had to fight for everyone good piece of press that he's received to this day and that suites him just fine.  Westbrook never intended to be a media fabrication ala the "good guy" status that was once Michael Jordan.  Westbrook came into the league real and will leave the league the same way because it's that idgaf attitude that has endeared and now without anyone noticing, Westbrook is one of the leaders of this new NBA, one that is no longer handcuffed by wanting to conform to the white collar fan base that the NBA marketing machine is trying to appease.  He is the anti Durant, Rose, and Wade and he simply doesn't give a fuck.  He is Russell Westbrook and he is the future, the next step in the evolution of the NBA player.