National Chronicle: The performance artist known as Russell Westbrook | Columns


Put yourself 25 years in the future. Imagine a lightning-fast playmaker who, while capable of leading the league in assists, is also capable of grabbing so many rebounds.

Westbrookian, they could call him.

Stay there, 25 years into the future, and imagine another leader.

He prepares his teammates quite well. He catches some rebounds. But what he really likes to do is take a guarded 18-footer, shot analyzes tell us no one should take. These and the 3 point shooter, although they’re never really a 3 point shooter.

Could this player also be called Westbrookian?

The two adapt.

Both would be correct.

Good luck that we will never see a player like that again.

There’s only one Russell Westbrook, thank goodness, and what the hell would we do with two of them?

Or, really, one?

That’s a timely question because Westbrook just wrapped up one of those insane games that no one, perhaps in league history, is capable of delivering and plenty of other good ones too, leading Washington to 14 wins in their last 18 games.

The insane game came on Monday, when Westbrook scored just 14 points but provided 24 assists and caught 21 rebounds in Washington’s 157-141 win over Indiana.

You read correctly. No overtime, only 298 points combined in 48 minutes.

Only two players had ever been in a 20 assists, 20 rebounds game in NBA history before Monday, and only two have done so yet – although Westbrook has now done it twice and Wilt Chamberlain only once. time.

After doing so, Westbrook was gracious and grateful during a post-game interview with Wizards broadcasters Justin Kutcher and Drew Gooden.

In the field, before taking the shower, he was always like that. Once back in the sanctity of the locker room, it was hardly ever like this. But it’s a different season, with coronavirus protocol eliminating regular access to the locker room – leaving Westbrook to be quite graceful at the post-game lectern as well.

Monday, at least.

Good for him.

Why he’s barely capable of thinking, or even politeness, in locker room media sessions, is a mystery and its business – however, if he were better at it, the shortcomings of an otherwise brilliant career might be more forgotten. easily.

Like how a player who has made 82.3% of his free throws the first nine years of his career can only make 70.2% the last four. For example, why would a career 30.5% 3-point shooter still shoot so much?

The most Westbrookian thing Westbrook has ever done came on November 24, 2018. Then in Oklahoma City, the Thunder dropped 105-98 that night, Westbrook finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, also 1 of 12. from beyond the 3-point arc, 0 for 5 in the fourth quarter.

Rather than face the music in the locker room, he kept the media waiting for two hours, much of which, still in uniform, he held a post-match shootout in front of an empty arena.

Google my name, Westbrook’s name and “Twitter” and you can watch some of it now.

The point was, rather than quitting to end the stubborn urge to go it alone and stop taking pictures he shouldn’t be, Westbrook instead chose to keep everyone waiting while he was looking for his stroke, so the next time his selfish impulses got the better of him, he might get a different result.

And even …

There’s always an “And yet…” that concerns Westbrook because he’s so charismatic, so amazing to watch when he’s not selfishly playing, so capable of games that only he can produce. It’s hard not to forgive him for everything.

And yet, in his last 16 games with the Wizards entering Wednesday, he’s averaged 21.9 points, 13.6 rebounds and 13.1 assists.

He even reaches 33.3% of his attempts at 3 points, of which he takes only three per game. He’s shooting a non-unreasonable 46.9% from the field overall, and he’s been a workhorse, playing 37.6 minutes per game, a number that would lead the league had he averaged all season.

His season minute count is 35.9, fifth in the league, tied with Jason Tatum of Boston, behind Julius Randle of New York (37.4), James Harden of Brooklyn (37.1), Fred Van Fleet of Toronto (36.3) and Harrison Barnes of Sacramento (36.2).

The thing about those names, only Harden, even in the ballpark, has as many life miles on his engine as Westbrook and only Randle has played more games this season.

Oh yeah he’s fantastic in the community wherever he’s been and while tough with the media he’s great with the fans.

After answering Kutcher and Gooden’s post-game questions on Monday, Westbrook then returned his shoes to a young Wizards fan.

It brings joy.

He mixes up.

He is selfish.

He is generous.

This will likely mark the third season in four, he led the league in assists and fourth in five, he averages a triple-double.

This is why the Wizards, despite three out of 15 wins coming out of the gate, may be tied in the playoffs.

Don’t think of him as a baseball player. He is not the point guard, Russell Westbrook, but the performance artist Russell Westbrook.

It’s hard to be a critic because there are times when he’s playing a game of his own.

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