One of these days, perhaps after an Oklahoma City Thunder game, we won’t talk about Russell Westbrook.
Seems silly to think, even sillier to say and downright foolish when appearing in prose because no one is more relevant and no one is more NBA topical than Russell Westbrook.
Sometimes he dazzles and impresses, and other times, well, there doesn’t appear to be any other times. Sunday was another triple-double for the Thunder point guard — the fifth in his last six games, and this one helped OKC beat Toronto 108-104 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
That’s seven triple-doubles this season. No one else in the league has more than three, so the idea Westbrook ever slips from our view appears to be foolish.
Instead of being bored with the one-man show, embrace it instead. Talk about it. Put it on repeat and watch it again. It’s not time to turn away or turn the channel. Don’t take a break, take it in.
Every night, Westbrook aligns himself with some of the greatest to ever play the game. In February it was only he and Oscar Robertson who were comparable. Then last week it was only Westbrook and Michael Jordan to have four-consecutive triple-doubles in the past 20-something years.
On Sunday it was just Westbrook and Magic Johnson — now the only two players in history with at least 30 points, 17 assists, 11 rebounds and four steals in a game.
"He’s playing unbelievable basketball right now," Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. "He’s pretty much carrying their team right now."
So, why talk about anything else as far as the Thunder goes? There’s Russell Westbrook and there’s "Not exactly." How could you see it any other way?
Kevin Durant hasn’t played since Feb. 19 and the Thunder, in a season where the team needs a superstar more than ever as the playoffs are still not a guarantee, is 6-3 since then. Westbrook has scored 30 or more six times in that span and 40 or more three times. He’s had 17 assists twice and more than 10 rebounds five times.
And yet, even after this latest masterpiece, it’s all about team when Westbrook speaks. When asked Sunday about how much he thinks about how special this amazing run of triple-doubles is, he told The Associated Press:
"It crosses my mind when we win, which is the most important thing."
OKC has to have Westbrook performing this way, so five of his triple-doubles have come with Durant out. Six in his career have come in three quarters of work.
The Durant situation is a tenuous one. Who knows when he’ll come back from injury? A week has turned into two. He’s had a pair of surgeries and played just 27 games. Of course, Durant’s name and legacy will forever be linked with Oklahoma City and its ascension, not only in the NBA but as an American city.
But try and say Westbrook isn’t the most-compelling storyline going, larger than life in OKC and dripping with more drama than any NBA plot. So big, even Durant’s upcoming free agency isn’t near the needle-mover it once was.
"You’re seeing one of the best athletes to ever play the game," Toronto guard Greivis Vasquez said. "This guy can do it all. Who else in the league has that kind of athleticism? If you see me doing that, you might have to be worried. If someone is capable, it’s him."
Think of it this way: The OKC crowd chanted "MVP," while Westbrook was at the line after he committed his ninth turnover. Nine. In one game. So what? Doesn’t matter, not when you’re playing at this level.
"If you find somebody who has slowed him down, let me know," Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan said.
If you find somebody not talking about Russell Westbrook, feel free to let me know.
"We’ve had a lot of success with him leading," coach Scott Brooks said. "He’s doing a good job of finding guys. He has a speed and aggression we need him to play at."
Thursday in Chicago, Westbrook missed a last-minute jumper that would have likely won the game. Sunday in Oklahoma City, he didn’t miss, dropping in a 23-footer with 44 seconds left. And after the Raptors closed to within three, Westbrook made two more free throws with 14.3 seconds.
Everyone knew Westbrook was going to get the ball in that spot. Of course he was. Of course we’re talking about him. Why wouldn’t we?