Friday, May 20, 2011

Will Westbrook Bring the Thunder?

Let me start off by apologizing for taking a bit of a break from the blogosphere of late. The school year was winding down for me and I decided I needed to devote more time to my finals and take about a month long hiatus from Student of Sports. But most importantly I am back and we can go back to what we really love and care about, sports!

So I'm watching last night's Mavericks/Thunder game, while enjoying a quality meal consisting of Teddy Grahams and Mountain Dew (By the way have you ever looked at Mountain Dew? There is no way that stuff is good for me.. It looks like I'm drinking acid.. Oh well.), and down the stretch I am in absolute awe of the fact that Thunder coach Scott Brooks had the balls to sit out star point guard Russel Westbrook for the entirety of the 4th quarter. I mean, we're talking about Russel Westbrook here, a guy who was named to the 2nd team all-NBA, second only to MVP Derrick Rose. I'll admit, I've been just as confused as everyone else watching the Thunder at times this post season and seeing Westbrook decide to take the game into his own hands and ignore the NBA's leading scorer Kevin Durant. But watching him sit out the 4th quarter was almost as strange as Nicole Scherzinger and 50 cent's, Spanish-channel-soap-opera-like, performance of Right There on American Idol last night. At first I didn't get it seeing as Westbrook was actually having one of his better shooting nights of the playoffs (7 for 15 from the field with 18 points) but as the game ended Eric Maynor guided the Thunder to the win and I was pleasantly surprised. There are 3 things to make from this:
  1. Scott Brooks has watermelon-sized cajones. Simply put, you know he'd get blasted if that backfired.
  2. The Thunder have a legitimate shot at this series. The significance of the Thunder taking one of those first two road games to start the series cannot be taken lightly. 
  3. Young Russel Westbrook is at a career defining moment. For me this is the main thing that came from last nights game because it not only impacts this post season but the next decade of NBA post seasons...
There is no doubt Russel Westbrook is a sensational player with limitless potential but there might not be a bigger factor in determining what kind of player he will turn out to be than how he reacts to this 4th quarter benching. He has a chance here to show how mature of a person and how great of a teammate he is by keeping his chin up, showing he's a team player by commending Maynor's effort, and playing his ass off in game 3. Unfortunately this can also go the other way. If he pouts, throws his team and coach under the bus and takes his disappointment out on the court with him we could see the beginnings of a Starbury (Stephon Marbury) like career. As an NBA fan, and someone who doesn't want to see the Heat cruise to a decade of dominance, I am hoping Westbrook does what he needs to do to be the best teammate he can be. There in no way of denying that if Westbrook reaches his true potential (which involves being a great teammate) he and Durant have the ability to go head to head with any foe the East can muster up, including Miami's version of Two and a Half Men. (Side note: Who do you think has been more damaging to his version of Two and a Half Men this year, Charlie Sheen or Chris Bosh? Seriously, that's how low my opinion of Bosh has become...) So putting it plain and simple, the type of player Westbrook will become, along with the type of team the Thunder wil become, may be decided in this next few days. Will Westbrook turn into a mature, all about the team type player? Or will he transform into an immature, me-first type of jerk? For the sake of the Thunder and the league let's hope he takes the high road and from what I saw from him on the bench last night, I think he will.

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad


PS: All NBA fans should check out this sick link about The NBA Dunk Contest (<---click here). Thanks to my good buddy Ray for sharing this gem with me. Also, follow Student of Sports on twitter at Student of Sports on Twitter!

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