Looking for yesterday's quote of the day?
You don't have to look any further than Russell Westbrook.
During the Thunder's 92-78 victory over the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points to go with five assists (without a turnover) and four steals. He was brilliant, scoring from everywhere on the floor, and delighted the crowd with a gorgeous half-court alley-oop to Kevin Durant that made the arena explode.
His best play, though? That came with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter. Westbrook received the ball from Durant at the three-point line and took off toward the hoop. One dribble, rise, elevate, elevate, continue to elevate and then slam the ball through the net over a completely helpless Omer Asik.
It was nasty. Violent. Explosive. It was bold and brash. It was Westbrook at his best. It was an example of why certain players shouldn't be stifled, even when their shot selection might make you raise an eyebrow. Educated and coached, yes. Stifled? Nah.
Westbrook is a supremely talented 23-year-old point guard who can score in droves. He plays with one of the best players in the game. As a result, we take him for granted sometimes. We want him to be a better point guard, more efficient passer, make sounder decisions. While marveling at Durant, it can be easy to lose sight of how special of a player Westbrook is too.
Shooting 47.7 percent from the floor (fourth among all point guards), Westbrook is averaging 24.5 points per game, the most of anyone at his position. He's also third among point guards for free throws attempted per game, averaging 6.1 trips to the line each night, connecting on 82.3 percent of his attempts. Again, he's 23 years old.
It baffles me that people still want to point fingers at Westbrook whenever things don't work out for the Thunder when it's so obvious that everyone in his locker room knows exactly how important he is to his team.
Beyond his numbers, Westbrook brings a ballsy brazenness to Oklahoma City. While Kendrick Perkins brought grit to the team, Westbrook brings something else. A blend of laid-back Cali cool laced with a strong dose of "get out of my way" confidence, Westbrook is the perfect complement to Durant's humility—even if we want to spend all of our time highlighting their differences.
A thick skin is needed to take the type of criticism that's been directed at Westbrook. He's got it. He also has the ability to shrug off compliment and criticism alike to focus on the task at hand.
Against the Bulls, that task was getting to the hoop to make a statement.
When Westbrook was asked about the play after the game, his response was classic:
"Ahh, that's a little something I do."
Yes, yes it is. While we admire those highlight-reel-worthy plays, let's not forget all that he does for his team on the floor and all that he brings to it off the floor as well.