Thursday night the Golden State Warriors will play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder. But lets be serious, the only thing any one cares about is Kevin Durant vs Russell Westbrook and more importantly how the latter will treat his friend, turned foe. After an opening night loss to the Spurs, the Warriors have rallied to win 3 in a row behind Durant’s 31.3 points per game. Although wins against the Pelicans, Suns and Blazers will do little calm the noise heading into Thursday night’s showdown, Durant’s already tried to get ahead of the “KD vs Russ” talk saying quote “We were brothers, we are brothers.” Which is a shame because I feel like we already have an idea how Russ and the Thunder might feel.
But I’m just guessing….right?!?! Anyways, the Russell Westbrook tour got underway last week and lets just say, not everyone was a fan.
Middle fingers aside, Russ followed up his trip to Philly, with a 51 point (on 44 shots), 13 rebound, 10 assist overtime performance against Phoenix. In fact, Westbrook is averaging 38.7 points, 11.7 assists and 12.3 rebounds per game over his first 3 games of the season (please read that over again…its ok, I’ll wait). He’ll get his first real test of the season Wednesday night against Chris Paul and the Clippers…but we all know he’s gotta be looking ahead to Thursday, no?
Now, lets just get down to it…I’m firmly on #TeamRuss this season because I will never be able to understand being up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, blowing that lead and then jumping ship to the team that just beat you. We’ve all heard the reasons…its a bigger market, better style of play, the Warriors have more fun etc. etc. etc. But a couple things don’t add up for me. First off, if Draymond was recruiting KD all season long, there’s no way you’ll be able to convince me that going to Golden State wasn’t in Durant’s head up 3-1. How could it not be? So the next question is, how did it affect his play? Obviously I’m not saying he threw games, but what I mean is subconsciously it had to be in the back of his mind that he can’t go to Golden State if OKC upsets them in the West Finals. That would be an unprecedented move, even for this “Super-Team” era of the NBA. He left because he needed a change of scenery, cool. He left to chase a ring, cool (I guess, even though he could do that in OKC) and he left to have more fun? Wait how is this not fun?
Anyways, my point is the narrative became “Blame Russ” for KD leaving. And that my friends is where you lose me. We all understand that Russ isn’t the “pass first” prototypical point guard that your high school coach wants him to be. Yes he takes bad shots and at times makes poor decisions down the stretch. But to me those are fixable traits, that could be improved with coaching or the other leaders of the team…cough…KD…cough. But why are we acting as if all of the Thunder failures are Russ’ fault? Why are we acting as if Russ hasn’t improved in every aspect of his game? Over the last 3 years his assist numbers went from 6.9 to 8.6 to 10.4 assists per game and we’re acting as if Russ is the same ball hog he was earlier in his career. I was a Westbrook hater early on, but eventually the guy won me over because of his BEAST MODE abilities. Russ is an animal. A physical freak. A guy that plays hard on both ends of the floor ALL THE TIME. Just ask Steph, Russ has him on MANNERS whenever they play each other, while Steph guards Roberson on D. But seriously, other than LeBron is there another dude in the league that you wanna go to war with than Russell Westbrook? While other people raise their level of play in the big moments, Russ is already there ,because he only has one gear…and that’s to GO HARD!!! (#JeezyAdLib). Just watch any recent All-Star game, Russ is the only person actually trying for the entire game. It’s just the way he’s programmed. So if you have a partner in crime, that RIDES for you the way Russ RIDES for the Thunder, why would you want to give that up to experiment with the Warriors? To me, I think Durant figures it will be easier to win a championship in Golden State, than it would be in OKC. Which is fine I guess…but then my biggest question then becomes, where is the loyalty? This article by Lee Jenkins (A MUST READ BTW) sums up the fact that Russ felt it was a “Cupcake” or a soft move to run to “The team that just beat us” (http://www.si.com/nba/2016/10/19/russell-westbrook-thunder-nba-season-preview-kevin-durant)
And I must say, I totally agree. Then add the fact KD sent his “Brother” a text to let him know he was heading to G-State…C’Mon Man. Now, I will say Kevin Durant is one of the nicest NBA stars that I’ve ever interviewed and in fact I don’t think he actually meant to throw shade at Russ or at the Thunder at any point during this situation. I just think when people make difficult decisions, there’s always fallout on the other side regardless of your intentions. But I don’t think Durant fully realized the impact a move like this would have on the rest of his peers…cause if he did, he would have done more than send the guy a text. But hey I’m not complaining, because if there’s one thing the NBA does better than any other league, its drama. Whether it’s Shaq freestyling “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes” or LeBron having a Halloween party with a skeleton band called “3-1 Lead”, the NBA IS FAAAAANTASTIC. And who are we kidding, if Russ shoots 40 times a night and OKC fights for the 8th seed, while Durant and company make it back to the Finals for Warriors-Cavs Rd 3, Adam Silver might as well stand at center court screaming “Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”
Either way, #ImWithRuss and the Jenkins article gives great insight as to why Russ is Russ (also why KD is KD) and it only solidifies why I’m on #TeamRuss. This is why win or lose I hope Russ goes for Kobe’s 81 on Thursday night (I’m only half joking about the win or lose btw). Anyways, I think this Jordan ad sums up Russ’ current mood, while also becoming my new favorite commercial. I even went to Apple Music to download the song by some kid named “Lil Uzi Vert”….Yes I’m old…I’m fully aware.
Yes I know it’s been while….but as always…
Just my thoughts man. Right or Wrong, just how I’m feeling at the time.