“Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude, And in the calmest and most stillest night, With all appliances and means to boot, Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down! Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” (King Henry, Act-III, Scene-I, Lines 26-31)
Perfection. That is what’s consistently asked of Russell Westbrook from the NBA universe, and they will accept nothing less.
Since LeBron James won his third championship, first for his hometown of Cleveland Ohio, a lot of the criticism and expectations he was burdened with were lifted. All that could be done to criticize James was to ask the question is he the greatest of all time? Is he better than Michael Jordan?
That left the NBA universe looking for the next successor to the crown for the most scrutinized player in the league, and they looked no further than the King of Oklahoma, Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook, who has always had his critics was the perfect fit. Westbrook’s style is his own and looks nothing like the rest. He doesn’t shoot like Steph Curry, it doesn’t look as smooth as James Harden, and he doesn’t have the natural ability that Chris Paul does. Westbrook is brutal. There is a ferociousness to the way Westbrook plays. He doesn’t stop even if he is shooting 9-of-30 and he doesn’t always make the right plays. Westbrook is an imperfect player. He also hasn’t endeared himself with his attitude towards the media in interviews and press conferences.
Being only the second man in history to average a triple-double for an entire season wasn’t good enough. Doing it twice made it less impressive to the masses. When Kevin Durant walked out the door, it was as if Durant had kicked a bucket of blood into the ocean on his way out of Oklahoma City and the media, opposing fans and social media came like sharks and have been taking their chunks of flesh ever since.
So what if Russell Westbrook became what all of his critics asked of him to become? What if Russell Westbrook did the impossible and became the perfect basketball player like was asked of him? What if he happened to fulfill the enormous demands of all his critics and still failed?
Would that erase everything Westbrook has accomplished in his first 10 years? Would it take away from his hall of fame career that consists of an MVP trophy, two All-Star MVPs to go along with his seven All-Star appearances? Or Westbrook’s seven All-NBA selections that comprise of two first-team selections and five-second team selections in arguably the golden age of point guards. Westbrook has built his Hall of Fame career despite his detractors. Forgot to mention, he’s also been the scoring champion twice to go along with an assists championship. Most importantly he’s done it his way, and he’s been successful doing so.
If Russell Westbrook is going to remove the crown, he will have to follow in the footsteps of LeBron James and win a championship. For him to accomplish that he will have to bend his game. Westbrook is going to have to modify his way of playing, such as moving more without the ball, playing more off the ball, and becoming more of a catch and shoot weapon for the Thunder. The Thunder have made that more of a possibility by acquiring point guard Dennis Schroder from the Atlanta Hawks for Carmelo Anthony. That will give Westbrook the opportunity to do these things.