Latest posts by Ben Stinar (see all)
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Dear Russell Westbrook,
I want to start off by saying you averaging a triple-double three seasons in a row is the best individual stat in NBA history.
The game is different than it was years ago. Isn’t that what everyone says? It is played at a much faster pace, teams score more points, and defense is certainly limited by the rules.
Well, when Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1962, there were only nine teams, and they combined for an average of 118.8 points per game — without a 3-point line! Robertson’s Cincinnati Royals averaged 123 points per game alone.
Fast-forward to 2019, where people claim the pace has changed, which in essence discounts your triple-doubles. But that’s not the case. During the 2018-19 season, teams averaged 111.2 points per game, and your Oklahoma City Thunder averaged 114.5.
Therefore, the amount of points being scored this season are nowhere near what they were scoring when Robertson (the only other player in NBA history) averaged a triple-double. To make matters even more interesting? Robertson averaged 44.3 minutes per game as opposed to your 36 minutes per game. So let’s get one thing straight — your triple-doubles are the most impressive individual stat in league history. They’re even more impressive in the modern era of not playing a superstar the entire game.
The issue is not with your talent or your character. You are one of the greatest to ever play, and you have been one of my favorite characters. You want to win, and the opponent on the court is equal to the opponent on a battlefield in your eyes. The problem with your style of play, is you need to know when to take a backseat.
We know how good you are. There is nothing left to prove about your individual ability. Stats don’t matter to your legacy anymore. You are an all-time great player, but so was Allen Iverson. What did Iverson win? Nothing. I want you to be remembered as more than a modern-day AI because you are better than he ever was. You’re bigger, stronger, taller, faster and can finish at the rim better than he ever could.
Look at LeBron James. Study him, because James could put up any stat line on any given night. Just like you. You don’t think James could average a triple-double for a couple seasons? However, he knows how to balance stats with winning.
You could be one of the greatest players ever. You could be a top-20 player to ever play the game. You’re that good, but right now you are on the verge of falling out of the top-50 over silly individual stats.
In a nutshell, here is what I am saying:
To put up the stat line that you have the last three seasons, a player has to be so good that he could be a top-20 player of all-time. There are maybe five players in NBA history (if that) who could do what you’ve done. The triple-doubles are almost impossible to put up at the clip at which you’ve done it. We get it Russ, you can average a triple-double. Not once, not twice, but three times.
James could do the same thing if he wanted to at your age. He understood at a young age that he could put up numbers at will, but that would not translate to winning. Since you’ve come into the league, it’s all come relatively easy to you. Your athleticism and will-to-win is a gift, and I wish more players had it. The problem is it’s also a curse.
I’ve talked to your ex-teammates they love you, they adore you, and they know how bad you want to win. Your old buddy Anthony Morrow had the kindest of things to say about you.
“You wouldn’t even know he’s a superstar,” Morrow told Amico Hoops in August. “My girl and his wife are very close. He’s always with family, his wife, his brother, or his dad and mom. Always around his family. I think that says a lot about him as a person.”
When have you ever been in trouble off the court?
You seem like a great father and husband. As Morrow said, you’re always around your family.
You have everything going for you, but it gets wrecked over silly games with the media and stat lines. You are BIGGER than that. The next time Berry Tramel asks you a question, will you please just answer the guy? Who cares what he has said to you or wrote about you? Just answer the damn question. Be the bigger person.
Your teammates know how bad you want to win, and they also know how hard you work. Remember Jeremy Lamb? I don’t know if you guys were the best of friends, but he appreciates you more than maybe even you know.
“Helped me anyway possible,” Lamb told Amico Hoops in January. “If I needed some advice. Even after I left I hit him up. I said ‘man how do you sustain playing through an 82-game season,’ and he helped me. Definitely a great player, but a great person off the court.”
I have illustrated just how great your triple-doubles are, because they are impossible. Averaging a triple-double for three straight seasons?
I get it. Kevin Durant ditched you three seasons ago, so you feel like you need to prove something to everybody.
But it’s over. We get it. You’re amazing. Now it’s time to look in the mirror, and reflect on what you could do to make the team better. I give you credit for recognizing that, because after you got eliminated that’s what you said you were going to do.
I just hope you do it.
I want you to go down as a top-20 player to ever play in the NBA.