By Eduardo Maisonet III / @edthesportsfan
For FOX Deportes
Let me get these things out of the way real quick.
1. I’m from Oklahoma.
2. I’m a die-hard Oklahoma City Thunder fan.
3. I’m the unofficial president of the Russell G. Westbrook fan club.
(A few points on No. 3. One, I don’t know if the G. initial is his actual middle initial. I have a weird fascination with athlete’s middle names since I found out that Brett Favre’s was “Lorenzo” and LeBron James’ was “Raymone.” But I digress. Two, the G. stands for Geronimo in my mind. Three, my favorite player in the league is Kevin Durant, but I “Stan” (ref. Eminem) the most because so many of you despise the man.)
Now, let’s proceed carefully, shall we? Cool.
I can’t remember a time when the Oklahoma City Thunder have lost a game where Russell Westbrook didn’t receive the majority of the blame. Game 2 in the Western Conference Finals wasn’t an exception. Russell Westbrook, in my opinion, performed quite admirably despite all of the defensive chaos that his team was experiencing. 27 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers (which is an interesting sub-plot for the Westbrook haters, as the man has only committed 18 turnovers in 11 games and has almost a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio…but I digress.) for the “point” guard, all while chasing the cat-like quick Spurs “point” guard Tony Parker. Yes, Parker torched the Thunder for 34 points and 8 assists, in an effortless fashion. The Spurs targeted the Westbrook and Perkins and exploited them to the nth degree, yet Westbrook’s only doing what his coach has instructed him to.
While I’ll let my disapproval for Scott Brooks slide for another day, I’ll say that when Brooks finally made a tactical adjustment, Westbrook and the Thunder’s defense improved greatly.
When the game ended and the smoke cleared, the Spurs decisive 120-111 victory over the Thunder stung like a heavyweight champ connecting with an overhand right.
Game three provided a much different result for both Westbrook and the Thunder. Westbrook’s statline was understated but supplemental towards Oklahoma City’s effort. 10 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and just 2 turnovers contributed in making other’s better as the Thunder won 102-82. There was no praise to heap onto Westbrook for his performance. No, that was reserved for Kevin Durant and Thabo Sefolosha, who played out of his mind on Thursday.
Winning cures all the bad, that’s what the old folks say. Westbrook’s all-around effort probably doesn’t deserve headline praise in the win, but somehow even when he has an excellent game his name is slandered to the high heavens.
So I’ll ask you the question again….why do you all hate Russell Westbrook?
Is it those pull-up jumpers he takes early in the shot clock?
Is it those times that Westbrook doesn’t pass it to Durant?
Maybe its those egregious shirts and Sally Jesse Raphael glasses he likes to wear?
No, I know what it is…its that scowl that Russ always has on his face, huh?
There are things that Westbrook does that can make for a headscratching experience, however, the Thunder got here because of Westbrook, not in spite of. Westbrook’s scoring more than ever this season, and the Thunder have not capsized. He’s passing less, yet his teammates seem in his corner even more, most notably Kevin Durant. An All-NBA 2nd-Teamer, probable Olympian and in game three did all the little things his team needed him to do for the Thunder to get back in the series.
Yet, you hate Russell Westbrook. Okay.