3 min read

The Side Part: Histrionics

The Side Part: Histrionics

It would’ve been pretty easy to charge Victor Oladipo with murder after what he did to Dwight “NOW THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN” Howard on the night of December 5th. When you search Oladipo’s name on YouTube the second thing that pops up now is “Victor Oladipo dunk on Dwight Howard” which gives you some idea of how devastating it was. When the dunk had been dunked, and the home crowd themselves couldn’t keep quiet about it, the Hawks play by play guy, a dude whose name I will not bother looking up, said, “Look at all the histrionics here.”

I did not know what histrionics meant. I did look that up. Here it is.

noun, ( used with a singular or plural verb)
1.dramatic representation; theatricals; acting.
2.behavior or speech for effect, as insincere or exaggerated expression of an emotion; dramatics; operatics
As in: Cut out the histrionics—we know you’re not really mad.

I cannot speak confidently as to the state of Oladipo’s heart—I imagine it’s a happy one filled with song—but watching that dunk, and taking everything into account, I think my guy used the wrong word. If you dunk like that, whatever happens after is sincere. Even if it’s somehow not, it is. The dunker made it so. There was no acting there in the post-dunk party. If I did something like that in a game I’d just self combust. I throw no stones at Vic for a few stomps, for letting the world see his brightness, for reveling in his own madness. When someone dunks on someone like that, they get to make the rules, and rule number one would probably, if it were me, be something like: NOBODY SAYS A THING TO ME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I AM THE KING.

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What Russell Westbrook is doing these days is nothing short of miraculous. His play is like some combination of electricity and that first big scene in the ’06 Casino Royale when that bad guy is just parkouring all over the place. I’ve officially reached a place where I have to be intentional in reminding myself that what he’s doing is properly insane. It makes no sense. I had to check myself the other night after the Pels game because he “only” had 28.

The Thunder could afford to coast some last year. Defensively they could turn it on and turn it off and you never really got too worried because you’d seen what they were capable of. That’s not the case this year. Every game is a grind, and will be. They don’t have as much of an ability to run away with things, and so they’re up 7, and then 11, and then 6, and then 4, and then they’re behind by 3, and then they win by 8 because Westbrook made timely plays, because he is a singular talent, because he’s made of those monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This run of six consecutive triple doubles has verified something that people who’ve been watching Westbrook for years have known for a while: the only player in league history like Westbrook is Westbrook. He’s an outburst. I have, multiple times this year, broke out into spontaneous laughter because of some play he’s made. He carries himself with the confidence of an open flame stepping into a roomful of ice: can’t nobody tell him he’s not going to win. He’s turned absurdity into the every day, and every game I half expect him to sprout wings.