Before pouring in 21 first quarter points in a Wednesday night win over the Warriors, Russell Westbrook Popovich’d a reporter who asked him how he was approaching the defending champs. The journo was forced to answer his own bad question—”you play every game the same way”—because it’s already such an ingrained part of the Westbrook lore. But the point was made, even if the reporter said it for him: Russ destroys anyone he’s matched up against, regardless of who it might be. And while it’s true Westbrook goes hard all the time, when he’s facing his old MVP running mate in the Bay, or any top player (particularly the starting Western backcourt of Steph Curry and James Harden), Russ wants to cut their heart out—like Magua did to Col. Munro—and hold it up for the world to see. It’s one reason he’ll finish his career as the greatest NBA All-Star of all time. Another stems from the All-Star Game itself. It’s a joke these days. The defense––or lack thereof––makes Friday night’s celebrity game feel like a life-or-death Colosseum contest in comparison. There hasn’t been any discernible defense in the All-Star Game since the last time Staples Center hosted the event in 2011 (and even that’s a stretch). That’s the year Why Not Westbrook’s equally-as-psychotic peer, Kobe Bryant, took home the final of his four All-Star MVPs. Last February’s frictionless clash is why this year’s demanded such a dramatic change. The playground-style picks (made, sadly, on a private conference call) came about after NBPA president Chris Paul watched last year’s game injured at home. Reportedly, he was so struck by the nonchalance in the 192-182 laughfest, he huddled with a relieved (because he didn’t have to bring it up himself) Adam Silver and an annoyed Michael Jordan, to come up with the changes that would ostensibly make it competitive again.
Why Russell Westbrook Will Go Down as the Greatest NBA All-Star
Complex | Feb 18