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We now interrupt your regularly scheduled Thunder tank update to bring you this breaking news: Russell Westbrook is awesome.
The Oklahoma Hall of Famer has a chance against the Atlanta Hawks tonight to break Oscar Robertson’s longstanding and long thought unbreakable record for career triple doubles. Like so many times during his unbelievable 2017 Thunder season, all eyes in the NBA world will be focused on Westbrook’s appointment with history.
Now before we go any further, I know because of the subject matter at hand that some reading this will come equipped with reasons to buck the notion of Russ’s brilliance. So just like Eminem did at the end of 8 Mile when he was battle rapping against Falcon, let’s just lay all of Westbrook’s faults out into the open so nobody can use them against him. He is a poor 3-point shooter. He is a relatively inefficient scorer for a superstar. He hasn’t won a championship. He isn’t nice to Berry Tramel. Next question.
While the biggest Russ stans aren’t likely to admit his negatives, even the biggest Russ haters cannot deny the cold, hard facts that is the body of Westbrook’s work.
The former #4 overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft was considered a reach by Sam Presti by most draft experts. Russ ended up being by far the best player in the entire class. Let us count the ways.
Westbrook is an MVP. He is a nine time All Star and a two time All Star MVP. He has been named to the All NBA First Team two times, the All NBA Second Team five times and the All NBA Third Team two times. He is a two time scoring champion. He is a two time assists leader. He has averaged a triple double in four seasons. He is an Olympic gold medalist. He co-captained OKC to the second best winning percentage in the league over an entire decade. He has led his teams to the playoffs as the first or second best player 10 times. He has been to four Western Conference Finals. He has been to one Finals.
If you are criticizing Russ for his on court performance, your only argument is the lack of rings because his numbers and his teams’ success are inarguable. And that elusive title likely would have been captured if not for Patrick Beverley’s meniscus attack, or Kevin Durant’s Jones fracture, or Serge Ibaka’s need for God and ice, or Klay Thompson’s supernova Game 6, or KD’s issue of The Players’ Tribune. Or if not for his old school, strong minded attitude of not bouncing to the nearest super team to chase empty rings.
Detractors are quick to point out Westbrook’s fiery temperament on the court and his flippant attitude towards reporters in media scrums. Those talking points are used to paint a pessimistic picture of him as a person.
But nary is the mention of Russell Reading Rooms or the Why Not? Foundation. Or the fact that he’s never been in any legal trouble whatsoever. Has the man ever even had as much as a parking ticket? You won’t ever read a story about Russ breaking COVID protocol in a night club because on a Friday night off of hoops, he’s going to be at home with his wife and kids, not out with Jack, Coke and Candi.
Russell Westbrook is one of the most polarizing and divisive players in NBA history. Half the basketball fans, analysts, sports radio hosts, talking heads, reporters, writers and blog boys think he’s an overrated, stat padding, immature, selfish player who will never be one of the greats because he never won a ring. And they’re entitled to their wrong opinion.
Russ has faults and limitations. Just like B-Rabbit was white, a bum, lived in a trailer with his mom and had a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob who shot himself in his leg with his own gun. But despite the nonsense Stephen A. Smith and Colin Cowherd try to sell, Bestbrook far outweighs Worstbrook.
Russell Westbrook is one of the most unique, athletic, exciting, entertaining and, yes, greatest players in NBA history. The unfathomable amount of triple doubles aren’t proof of his prowess, they are merely a side effect. NBA legacies are measured by winning, statistics, accolades, accomplishments and the imprint they leave on and off the court. The King of the Prairie checks every one of those boxes.
When #0 from UCLA breaks The Big O’s record, Thunder fans should cheer and delight in the moment just as much as, if not more than, Wizards fans. No matter where he is playing, Russell Westbrook will always be synonymous with Oklahoma City. And any accomplishment added to the Russ resume only adds to the legacy of Thunder basketball.
While Washington Wizards fans can claim the historic, record breaking night, whether it be tonight, Wednesday or Friday (let’s be real, we all know it’s happening tonight), OKC fans can claim the historic, record breaking career.
Go make history, Russ. Why Not?