04.26.11

Hey, They’re Still Up 3-1 : Daily Thunder’s Sympathy For Russell Westbrook

Posted in Basketball at 4:22 pm by

Sure, you thought “30 (points) On 30 (shots)” was an ESPN property, but there was a late night edition on TNT Monday in which Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook experienced the sort of shooting futility against Denver that would’ve had John Starks saying, “maybe he oughta let someone else put it up” (had John Starks been sitting on my couch). Daily Thunder’s Royce Young witnessed Westbrook’s cringeworthy display, but argues, “the tone was set early on. This was a Russell Westbrook night.”

I think he sensed what I was seeing. The Thunder didn’t look comfortable in their own skin. They were throwing the ball away, taking dumb shots, forcing things and not moving off the ball. So he tried to take over a bit. And it’s difficult for Westbrook to turn it on in spurts. That’s the ideal Westbrook. The guy that can sense that moment where his team needs his offensive spark and give it for a few minutes and then turn the game back over to the natural rhythm and flow. But he’s not there yet. He’s just 22 and he’s still figuring all that out.

We’ve seen the Good Russ and Bad Russ a lot. And I’ve said it a hundred times: to get Good Russ, sometimes you live with Bad Russ. He’s not a perfect player. He’s still developing. This wasn’t his finest hour but he was trying to win the game. That’s what he had on his mind. Did KD need a few more touches? Absolutely. But to knee-jerk and start saying stupid things about Westbrook because of this game like “he’s not a point guard!” or “play Maynor!” is beyond ignorant.

With Westbrook, it’s all about accepting what he is. It’s like the scene in Band of Brothers when Speirs tells that one guy crying in the foxhole, “The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function.” Westbrook isn’t a “true” point guard. He never will be. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you’ll be able to appreciate what he is. A darn good basketball player that still has some room to grow.

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