Monday, April 25, 2011

Russell Westbrook has been watching his Kobe videos

There’s a certain subgenre of farce in which the main character, touchingly na├»ve or stupid, bumbles his way through increasingly absurd situations, often oblivious to it all, only to succeed at the end, protected by the invisible hand of the plot. (e.g. The Man Who Knew Too Little) Russell Westbrook is very similar to the hero of such a farce, except instead of a plot magically protecting him, it is his physical ability and relentless demeanor that obscures his deficient decision-making skills.

The latest example was Westbrook taking a potential game-tying three-pointer in transition and airballing it, with two defenders in the immediate vicinity. Westbrook has often felt compelled to take bad shots, frequently of the jump shooting variety. Westbrook’s overly frequent shooting would be problematic for most teams on the league; for a team including the wondrous talents of Kevin Durant, it’s the basketball version of what some politician would call a “senseless tragedy.”

The sad thing is that most hardcore NBA fans have known about Westbrook’s issues for a long time now, and the shortest summation of it was a conversation I had with a friend, who repeatedly circled around the point “There’s a reason they’re letting you have that shot!”

Russell plays like he thinks the kid who’s a couple years older than all of the other kids, except, tragically, obviously he’s not. How has Oklahoma City let him do this for so long? I’ve joked once or twice that it’s a cruel thing the universe denied us the spectacle of Russell Westbrook as coached by Scott Skiles, which would’ve led to some fascinating fights and feuds and possibly the first coach murdering his player as the tail risk. But in his inimitable way, Skiles would’ve been right and apparently the Thunder are uninterested in holding Westbrook to account and getting him to act like a reasonable basketball player.

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The Grizzlies are up 3-1 against the Spurs and it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Grizzlies will win. In its own way it will be a more remarkable result than the Mavs-Warriors series a few years back. Aside from the first game, the series has been a boring, grinding one, devoid of drama. The Warriors upset the Mavs as a thrill-a-second, almost transgressive team. It was fun! This is moderately interesting and might only be fun if the New Orleans Chris Pauls complete their upset of the Lakers, which would confirm that we live in a mad, mad, mad world.

5 comments:

  1. Westbrook is the biggest BALLHOG of all times considering he has Durant playing with him ... Im a big OKC fan, but im thinking about chosing another team to root for, just because of "selfish" Russell Westbrook ... Doese he think he is MJ or something ... Althought he might build a cathedral with all his bricks soon in the Oklahoma :)

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  2. I think he has been watching Derrick Rose instead of Kobe. Derrick knocked out Russell's stacked UCLA team out of the tournament in 2008, was drafted #1 (while Westbrook was #4), and is now going to get the MVP award. Players don't forget this stuff.

    Russell is thinking to himself, "if only Kevin Durant would turn into Scottie Pippen, then I would be MJ."

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  3. Ron Artest wins the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

    Five years ago, I thought Dick Cheney had a better chance at winning the Nobel Peace prize.

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  4. Is Rose the right one? Rose uses contextual thinking; that happens to lead him to the "obsessive driving" conclusion because it's the right thing to do.

    i see Kobe as the proper comparison--or, more specifically, Kobe in the fourth quarter, who plays as if governed by an algorithm:

    DO I HAVE THE BALL?
    (IF YES, TRY TO SCORE)
    (IS THERE NO WAY I CAN SCORE?)
    (IF YES, PASS DESULTORILY.)

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  5. I think you are right that he is acting like Kobe but that the motivation is Derrick. The Kobe algorithm is spot on.

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