Russell Westbrook is awsome. The time has to come to remind everyone of that again. Westbrook had 22 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists on Tuesday in a Wizards loss. The night before he had an even more impressive 35 points, 21 assists and 14 rebounds. It was just the third time in NBA history someone had a 30 / 20 / 10 triple-double. It was that accomplishment that inspired Stephen A. Smith to call out Westbrook during First Take and a segment on Stephen A's World.
To Stephen A.'s credit, it was textbook hot take-smanship. Someone did something good? Here's why they actually suck. If you have any sort of rooting interest and have spent any time online, you've probably done the same thing to a player. Sports takes are generally binary. Good or bad. Yes or no.
This time Westbrook responded. First, in private to his wife Nina who ended up sharing their conversation on Instagram. Then after last night's Wizards game Westbrook gave a thoughtful answer during his press conference, explaining why Smith's opinion didn't matter to him.
Westbrook is a great player and if he doesn't care about ultimately winning a title, that's probably a good thing at this point. If helping people, which he does, is the most important thing for his legacy, he's doing a great job. Besides, he's still a future Hall of Famer so it's not like that part of his life has been lacking.
He also makes some great points about announcers shaping the way we perceive players, but what can they do? It's probably quite rare for an announcer to want to hurt a player's reputation or draft stock. Commentators like Stephen A. have to say stuff like Westbrook's triple-doubles don't mean anything because he never developed a three pointer. But does that really matter anyway if Westbrook is charitable? In life, no, but on a sports talk show, kind of! I'm sure Smith will have a response along those lines today.
Or Smith could just marvel at another of Westbrook's incredible displays of athleticism.
Westbrook is incredible. On the court and off. Stephen A. Smith probably knows that. Should be explain that every time he criticizes Westbrook's poor outside shooting?