How can a player average three straight triple-double seasons and still be called a ball hog? How does a player remain loyal to his original team when so many others are forming “super teams” and still be called selfish? How does a player put a team and a city on his back, never complains, and managed to do so while playing all 80+ games in three straight seasons (2015-17)? How can Russell Westbrook do all these things and still not get the respect he deserves?
What more does Westbrook have to do to be mentioned as the best PG and one of the top players in the league?
Is it the rings? Yes, Stephen Curry has three. Kyrie Irving has one but how are players like John Wall and even the youngster, Ben Simmons being shown more love than Westbrook? Which of those players has continually averaged over 10 assists for the past three seasons? Better yet, how many PG’s have managed to average 10+ rebounds over the last three seasons?
Fans are torn when it comes to the G.O.A.T. conversation between Jordan, LeBron, and whomever. Who’s the best player in the NBA at the moment? For three seasons, we’ve watched a PG average a triple-double. How many players have done this in the history of the NBA? None, except for Russell Westbrook.
Over his career, Westbrook has averaged 23.0 points, 8.4 assists, and 7.0 rebounds. Stellar numbers but many will still give the nod to Kevin Durant for letting Westbrook blossom into the player he is? But here’s the thing. How many people give the nod to Scottie Pippen or Shaquille O’Neal when it comes to Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant’s success?
Yes, Durant’s presence helped turned Westbrook into a winner, but not a star.
During his absence, Durant has won a ring. Westbrook has not come close to even sniffing the Western Conference Finals. But why should that affect where he ranks and the respect he deserves? The talent level around him is not top notch but each player goes out of their way to praise his hustle, drive, and willingness to put it all n the line to win. These are the reason fans adore Kobe and Mike, but Westbrook gets criticized.
It wasn’t until his prolific tribute to his late friend, Nipsey Hussle that fans started to come around.
It was in that game that Russell Westbrook put on a historic display with 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 21 assists. Fans came out in droves to support his accomplishment. However, what was lost in the admiration was the fact that he’s been doing this for the last three years. It might not have been the 20/20/20 but he’s setting and breaking records nightly.
Who wants to win more than Westbrook? He’s watched as Durant has walked away with a title. He’s witnessing James Harden become the next great scoring guard in the league. His time is now. He may not have a championship caliber team with Paul Geroge but that doesn’t mean he won’t give his all to bring Oklahoma City a title.
Jordan has the six rings and the “flu game” to his mantle. Kobe has the “killer instinct” and the five rings. As for Westbrook, he has nothing but stats. There are Hall of Fame players like Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and John Stockton who have never won a ring but has the stats to glorify their career. Westbrook is no different.
At this point, Westbrook could easily become the NBA leader in assists. Then what? Will critics finally give him the respect he deserves as one of the NBA’s best? What if he finished his career as a top ten rebounder and top five in scoring? Will that still qualify him as a ball hog and “me first” player?