There’s a certain subgenre of farce in which the main character, touchingly naïve 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.
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.