Russell Westbrook isn’t an NBA All-Star starter. Tough breaks. That’s life. We don’t need the social media sob story about how he’s the first man since Big O to average a triple-double and he’s the best athlete since Jesse Owens, etc. etc. and a cashmere sweater.
Indeed, the boy is balling.
However, the fans have spoken and they aren’t feeling him as much as they are Steph Curry (a proven winner) and James Harden, who is also doing his triple-double thing as the maestro of Mike D’Antoni’s wild system. Steph and Harden also play on Top 5 NBA squads, and winning drives popularity and preserves the value of rings.
While Harden and Westbrook carry superhuman loads on their squads, Curry's numbers are lessened by the presence of a gang of other scorers, but his value as a player is firm. He's the same guy that can get you 30 a pop so nothing's changed but the weather.
It may not be fair, but that’s how it goes. Westbrook is doing damage but his team is a seventh seed right now in the West. He’s seemingly a one-man show and we have seen that act before. MJ did it before the Bulls were champions. Kobe did it when he stomped his feet after Shaq left until they got him Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest. LeBron did it before he took his talents to South Beach and got two All-Stars to help him get over the hump.
Westbrook is supposedly the leading candidate for MVP so not getting a starting nod is what it is; The fans aren’t as hype on him as the statistically-stuck media seems to be.
Russ gets it. He didn’t wig out when asked about not starting in New Orleans.
"It is what it is," Westbrook told reporters. "It's the nature of the business, the game. I don't play for All-Star nods or All-Star bids. I play to win championships and every night I compete at a high level. It will work out. Just continue to do what I'm doing and play the game the right way.
"Being an All-Star is something you don't take for granted but like I said, for me I don't play to play in the All-Star. I play to become a better player and win championships. That's my goal."
You have to respect that answer and Russ knows that when he pops champagne one day and his team gets back to championship contention, then he will get all the starting nods he deserves.
But for now, why disrespect Steph? Are the feelings of the NBA community so fleeting that Steph should take a back seat to any other guard in the game. To my knowledge, he is the back-to-back MVP who captivated NBA fans with not only his incomparable shooting but his all-around dazzling offensive play. Is he an inferior baller now or something? Steph was the NBA’s sweatheart when his team was smashing win records and going to NBA Finals again as favorites.
For some reason, the media punished Steph for not beating LeBron last year in the same way they punished LeBron for losing to Steph the year before down two All-stars. Steph didn’t make Draymond Green kick the c’hip down the drain. If you really watch the game, why wouldn’t Chef beat out Westbrook for starter? Fans aren’t as wishy-washy and disloyal as media and NBA opportunists on social media.
Westbrook has to continue to do his thing and EARN his fan base. All the stats in the world won’t make you a winner and won’t endear you to fans and make you a transcending player. That’s something that just happens and Russ is close. He’s just not there yet and he may never be.