I spoke in tongues after Russell Westbrook’s dagger dunk last night. Lost my mind for a bit after that. Stood up, lifted my hands to the cracked sky, sweat falling off me. Thought I could understand French. Began sprinting in place, tore off my shirt. Started to spasm, did so for a minute. Seemed like there were police floodlights shining in the room. I could hear Brian Davis explaining to me what he thinks true toughness really is. I began to eat the remote.
When I stopped shaking I looked around me. My coffee table had a hole in it and the living room windows were shattered. On the television, written in Sharpie, were the words Supreme, Truth, and Funk. I kind of have an idea of what Westbrook is thinking every moment of his life and that is, “Bow down, all you who look at me.” Westbrook does not produce highlights as much as he gives us Road to Damascus Moments.
The best part about him is he’s all about the theater of professional basketball. He’s very aware that what he’s giving the audience, whether they’re in the arena or watching from home, is a performance. My spirit would not let my body quit watching that dunk. At a certain point, during one of the slow motion ones that popped up around an hour after the final buzzer had sounded, I just started laughing.
I didn’t laugh during the dunk, because when I experience genuine awe, my only response ever is silence. The laugh began after the dunk, during the celebration. He turns into a cartoon. The stomping, the pounding the chest, that’s all standard. Beautiful, majestic; it all makes me contemplate the universe, yes, but standard for Westbrook who, it strikes me now, doesn’t have a nickname because sometimes language is not enough. Words fail him. The real uniqueness in this post dunk jubilee can be found in Westbrook’s face. It contorts itself, becomes filled with such bloodlust he almost starts to look like another being entirely. It’s as though he’s morphing, becoming fantasy. I’d make the joke that the glory is so great I can’t look upon it but that’s not true at all. I’ll look all day. Capela will, too.
There are plenty of reasons to complain about this Thunder team. There isn’t much shooting. There isn’t much spacing. Without Westbrook on the floor it can look, at times, like everyone’s playing blindfolded in mud. The roster is deeply flawed and there are moments on both ends they look like someone told them, “Okay, ready? Play confused.” There’s time for all that talk, though, and unless some insane trade happens, we’ll probably get to it. For now, after that rager last night, I find it really boring. What I’m saying is perspective can go home, kick rocks, tell its mother the other children were making fun of it. Talking about roster construction after that dunk is like complaining it’s too cold while you look at the northern lights. I know that aspects of this are not ideal, but soak in the majesty when it shows itself.