Back to the NBA Journey, Week Twenty-Four: The God Run

The 2018-19 NBA season is in the home stretch. The Association still believes that its destination will be another championship for the Golden State Warriors. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the season as a whole. Last year was wonderful, so let’s return to the path. Let’s continue back on the Journey.

Song of the Week: James Brown & The J.B.’s – “The Boss”

This was originally going to be just a blurb in the Journey post. I was going to use another subject. But considering that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s previous two seasons in which he averaged a triple-double each received hundreds of words, this year deserves the same respect, if not more.

That’s the interesting facet of greatness that we overlook in the present. Because greatness requires sustained excellence, onlookers like us then expect to see it. Somehow, greatness loses its luster as it’s occurring, only for us to return and restore value to it long after its current relevance depreciates. This isn’t to say that idea is totally unfair, but consistency of any kind is a foundation for expectations. Those expectations can cause some of us to lose perspective of what’s happening and take it for granted. If an example is needed, look no further than LeBron James.

Tuesday night, Westbrook notched a 20-20-20 triple-double, tallying at least 20 points, rebounds and assists against the Los Angeles Lakers. This amazing feat all but ensures that he’ll average a triple-double for the third consecutive season.

Russell Westbrook is jubilant during his historic 20-20-20 game Tuesday night. (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook is going to average a triple-double for the third consecutive season.

There is no other great thing to compare to the trajectory of our appreciation.people’s individual greatness. With cars, appliances and the like, they depreciate in value with use and only regain their value when outside work is done. With comic books and art, the only way their value increases is if they’re untouched. Once any imperfection occurs, value plummets. People are not like that at all. Even after rising to greatness, there will be moments in which we normalize that greatness to the point where it’s expected more than appreciated. Then, once the greatness begins to fade, we rush to apply polish and give flowers and praise. Again, we don’t forget their greatness. We just are governed by expectations as a way to normalize that which is not normal or average.

There is a reason no NBA player, of all the great players in the nearly six decades since Oscar Robertson, had averaged a triple-double until Russ. There is a reason that no one since Wilt Chamberlain had amassed a 20-20-20 triple-double in a game until Russ. That reason is that it’s really difficult to do and a really unique player has to be in a unique situation in order to accomplish those feats. Using that thinking, there is a reason why Westbrook is averaging — again, for the third consecutive season — a triple-double. It is because he is a really unique player in a really unique situation, granting him the ability to accomplish those feats.

Video games allow for skills to be shown in many ways. One of those ways is the speed run. Another is to complete a game without taking any damage. Then there is the Happy Hob, who took the latter challenge and amplified it. Recently, he ran through and defeated every boss in the five “Soulsborne” (Demon Souls, Dark Souls 1-3 and BloodborBl) games without getting hit once. This “God Run” as he calls it is incredible because those five games are some of the hardest ever. Dark Souls 2 even gives an achievement for the first time a player dies titled, “One of Many.” He sustained his excellence over five such games, and deserves all the praise for a feat few if any will ever complete.

Russell Westbrook is not normal. Greatness is not normal. The “God Run” he’s been on is not normal. Even amongst other greats and even greater players of then and now, Westbrook is in elite company. We should not be treating what he’s doing as normal even though we expect him to continue to be great. Keep the perspective of greatness above rationalizing it to normalcy. Let him be great.

Twenty-four weeks in, and the Journey continues. Happy NBA, folks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *