With the NBA regular season winding down in the next few weeks, there are two things that are clear to me: it has been one of the most interesting NBA regular seasons in recent memory and, despite a very tight MVP race, Russell Westbrook should win the league’s most valuable player award.
I know this is hardly going out on a limb, with most experts and Twitterati honing in on Westbrook or James Harden as the clear favorites for months, now, but there have been some stunning individual performances this year from players all around the league.
You’ve got Anthony Davis in New Orleans, blossoming so hard that you can’t help but wonder if that giant fuzzy caterpillar that has nested between his eyes is going to take the next step, too, and metamorphose into a beautiful butterfly (*Author’s note: or if Boogie Cousins is going to get a butterfly face-tat like The Game).
— Chris Hatch (@NoCoastHatch) February 20, 2017
Then there’s James Harden, the bearded boom or bust assist/turnover maestro, leading the Rockets in the on-court version of a Michael Bay movie.
As usual, there is LeBron James: the ageless cyborg King who is still probably the best player on the seven continents in spite of his numbers somehow being overshadowed by the gaudier statlines of the younger crowd — an insane thing to say, let alone believe, but I if you’re picking different shades of neon, at some point you just go with the newest and brightest.
Fourth on purpose in this perfunctory list of absurd NBA talent is Isaiah Thomas, the basketball vampire who comes more alive the later it gets. The fourth quarter guru, who weaves in and out of traffic with all the fluidity of one of those semi-suicidal bike messengers in a big city, is averaging a robust 29/6 for the suddenly 1st place Celtics team.
Which leaves us with Russell Westbrook, the purpose of my writing this post today.
His insane brand of hero ball that has him playing like an unholy amalgam of Yellow Dwarf star and black hole all mixed into one. In writing about Russ Westbrook and what he has done this year, I have struggled to find the appropriate pop culture reference for the Oklahoma City point guard.
Last night, he tied the immortal Oscar Robertson’s all-time season high for triple doubles in a season with his ridiculous 41st of the season. He was able to hammer out this feat within 22 minutes of the opening tip. How does someone attempt to describe the nuclear fission of Westbrook going coast to coast and dunking so hard that the rim needs an ice bath after the game?
A good writer might try to break down the speed and ferocity, the raw diesel-engine power or Westbrook when he rocket-boosts off the floor. A unique person might compare his ascension to some kind of historical precedent or use his thrusting and parrying, a human rapier, as a metaphor for something bigger than the game.
Me? I’m looking to compare him to something I’ve seen in a movie.
I’m looking for precedent of my own.
What scene from what movie is the perfect representation of Russell Westbrook’s (*Author’s note: very probable) MVP season? Here are the five best ones that I could come up with.
Neo and Trinity Storm the Lobby in The Matrix
Goth-kid inspiration Neo and his kind-of-girlfriend Trinity decide they are going to go and rescue the leader of their crew of pleather-clad freedom fighters, Morpheus. To do this, they are going to need to break into the heavily fortified, virtually impossible virtual tower where Laurence Fishburne is being creepily smelled by Agent Smith. They’re outnumbered, out-maneuvered, and out of time. So what do they do? They pull a Russell Westbrook. They ignore common logic, throw caution into the bullet-smoked wind, and bum rush 30 armed guards while simultaneously giving gravity a big middle finger. Does Westbrook know Kung Fu? I don’t know. But he sure appears to be rigged up to some of those crazy Wire Fu stunts.
Achilles Takes the Beach of Troy
In this classic tale of warring nations, Brad Pitt and Brad Pitt’s insane wig team up to play Achilles. Achilles in this movie is, essentially, obsessed with two things: running hellbent towards whatever fate he believes the Gods have in store for him and the reckless pursuit of glory. Sound like someone we know? Anyway, this beach-storming scene where Achilles kills, like, 66 dudes in the span of a few minutes is basically just a dramatic recreation of when Westbrook went for 57/13/11 the other night against the Magic.
Jet Li Attacks the Police Station in Kiss of the Dragon
If you haven’t had the opportunity to absorb the manic, virtually plotless Jet Li action movie Kiss of the Dragon, this is the scene where Jet (*Author’s note: I don’t even remember his characters name. Does anyone ever remember his characters’ names?) walks into a French police station to try to save the daughter of a French-American hooker from a sleazy cop.
He then proceeds to beat the croissants out of 112 dudes at the same time — which is only 104.91 dudes if you convert it to Euros, but is still very impressive — and save the girl with the adorable little accent. Again: that’s a pretty Russ Westbrook thing to do. When Li takes on an entire class of police trainees that are learning karate, that’s basically just number 0 doing his thing on a 1-on-4 fastbreak
Uma Thurman Wipes out Every Single Member of the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill, Vol. 1
This is it.
The closest I think we will ever get to a Russell Westbrook 2016-17 moment in pop culture. Sure you could probably make an argument for the hallway scene in Daredevil on Netflix or some Steven Seagal flick that you catch with your dad at 12:45 on a Friday night where he literally beats the hell out of everyone in front of him without getting so much as a black eye. But this, for my money, with all the Tarantino gore, grace and horror that makes him one of the best to ever do it?
This is Russell Westbrook. This is his season. This scene, with Uma Thurman slaughtering all 88 of these psychotic, swordsmen/swordwomen all alone in a pitched, relentless assault? It’s why Westbrook should be MVP.
(*Author’s note: I definitely just realized that all of these are highly dated and make me appear like I haven’t watched an action movie since 2004, so tell me in the comments section what you’ve got to make me a little more contemporary…)