If you've been following me on twitter then you know that I have ended every session twitter with the following tweet to the people:
"Russell Westbrook is the best point guard in the NBA."
From tweeting this out to the general public I've received a wide variety of responses, including: lost followers, been told that I've lost my got damn mind, been told that there are at least 7 point guards better than Russ, and that I ain't shit.
Through it all the realization of the tweet isn't that I "ain't shit" or that I've lost my damned mind. Its just the conundrum I deal with on a daily basis being a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, being a fan of Kevin "King of the Summer" Durant, James "Fear The Beard" Harden, Serge Iblocka, Kendrick "Goon Squad" Perkins and of course….
See…that's what I call the man whose mama named him Russell G. Westbrook. (I'm not sure if G. is the man's real middle initial but it should be G.) I can't call the man by his full name because in the words of Kenny Masenda, the man has the mental capacity of a lima bean, a pair of car keys and the bag of sunflower seeds I ate last week.
Those words might be harsh, but there's no other way to explain the type of play that Russie provides us to witness on a consistent basis. It'd be different if Russie hadn't proven to us that he wasn't capable of putting all of his gifts and skills together. We see Russie's ability to get to the rim with relative ease. The ability to rise on anyone in the league and dunk with a furious rage. We've seen Russie's ability to play spot on defense, hit open jumpers and even hit the open man in the offense….on occasion.
We know what he's capable of, but what he actually does on the court is maddening.
Do you ever see a player who is so clueless that you can’t even get mad at them anymore? I mean, Russell Westbrook was determined to show the world that he watches Above the Rim before every single game and was convinced to show the world that he is indeed Kyle Lee Watson (forward to 3:26).
What happened in last year's playoffs for Russie and the Thunder was simultaneously miraculous and stupefying. On one hand, a team that young and green isn't supposed to be one game away from going to the NBA Finals. On the other hand, its baffling to see the team's supposed "floor general" be as hard-headed as Russie is. The inability to defer to the star player, the inability to keep his head when all around him is losing theirs and the inability to flat out play smart basketball when the team is desperately begging him to do so breaks my heart.
Of course, the old playas in my family say that once a fool gives his heart he'll give the world. This metaphor usually is applied to women, but it fits towards my feelings towards Russie.
The flashes he's shown me are mesmerizing. He's as good as, if not a better athlete than Derrick Rose. The way that Coach K utilized Russie on Team USA at the 2010 FIBA World Championships (where he was a de facto 2-guard, insane defender and slasher) gave me hope that he could take direction and coaching. In my mind, I believe that Russie also believes in Kevin Durant and realizes that they can't really flourish without each other.
For a 22-year old point guard of a NBA Finals contender, the expectations have been raised. We aren't talking about putting up gaudy numbers for a team in Siberia. (I'm looking at you Tyreke Evans) Is it fair? Maybe not, but these are the cards you're dealt.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to make a run at the 2011-12 NBA championship. They have the young legs for it in a shortened, compressed season. They have the talent. They MIGHT have the coach, (the jury's still out on Scott Brooks) and they have one of the best fan bases in the Association.
Russell G. Westbrook could get this team over the hump and make them unstoppable.
Right now, the Thunder only have Russie.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”