Russell Westbrook, or shall we call him “Russell West-brick”, was once a force in the NBA. The former UCLA Bruin has won multiple NBA-awards such-as: nine NBA All-Star appearances along with nine All-NBA team accolades.
He led the NBA in scoring twice, one of those seasons culminating with only the second-time a player has averaged a triple-double for the year. The last time that happened, Oscar Robertson was dominating the court in 1962.
When Westbrook was traded to the Lakers in 2021 to join LeBron James and Anthony “Street-clothes” Davis, it was obvious that LeBron thought that he had recaptured some of the “Big-3” magic he found by joining Dwayne Wade, and bringing Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat.
Anyone without a service-dog can see that this hasn’t worked-out.
Remembering the Oklahoma City Thunder
Imagine a time when Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden were on the same team. Sounds crazy, right?
Before “Big-3” teams becoming common-place, and NBA-stars deciding it was more-important for them to play General Manager than defense; there was a super-team. The OKC Thunder.
When the Thunder moved from Seattle in 2008-09, it caused quite a bit of resentment from some long-time NBA fans. Respectfully, Oklahoma City has about as much of a right to call a Big-4 sports-franchise home as the Arizona Coyotes deserve to be in the NHL. Now Seattle has the Kraken. But I digress.
The newly-minted OKC Thunder selected Russell Westbrook with the fourth-overall pick in 2008. The season-prior while still being a resident of Seattle, they took Kevin Durant as the second-overall pick in 2007. In 2009, they selected James Harden third-overall.
Unlike the current-NBA where stars decide where they want to, and who they want to play with; this super-team was built by an actual GM with actual draft picks. It never worked-out.
After a few deep playoff-runs, the egos became apparent; and what should have been a home-made dynasty became a dysfunctional warning-shot to the future of the NBA. The egos of players would now determine the functionality of franchises, and the people that run them. Or lack there-of.
What will no-doubt become a hall-of-fame career (the bar isn’t high for the NBA), “Russell West-brick” has shown that the mark of an HoF NBA player isn’t about team accomplishments as much as it is individual ones.
When Westbrook was traded to the Lakers in 2021, many surmised that joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis would lead to an almost-endless stream of Championships. During the 2020 COVID-season, the Lakers managed to navigate “The Bubble” and win a title.
Along with others won during that tumultuous season across other sports, they will historically be marked with an asterisk. Since joining the Lakers after 2020, Westbrook has shown that his brand of hero-ball and his penchant for individual stat-lines isn’t keeping pace with his advancing-age.
However, in the last few-weeks; the Lakers seem to be catching a bit of heat. They’ve posted a respectable 8-3 record in their last 11, and seem to finally be discovering their mojo. Some of this has come from Westbrook facilitating. He has been on a good run. Most of which has come from his willingness to pass and defer, instead of taking dead-end shots.
While he is very far from posting anything resembling his numbers from his OKC days, it seems to point towards Westbrook realizing he isn’t the player he used to be. If he desires an NBA Championship that eludes him, his new-role as a “piece” might be something that propels the Lakers to something more than a bottom-five team in the Western Conference.
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