Speak Softly and Drop Triple Doubles
Russel Westbrook is having a historic year, but not unprecedented…or should we say unpresidented.
July 1, 1898 Kettle Hill Cuba
Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt leads his band of misfit ruffian soldiers through a hailstorm of Spanish gunfire. Eventually Roosevelt’s Rough Riders take the hill. Roosevelt calls his men to the task of making camp, yelling “Stop! Drop! You there — shut em down! And you — open up your shop old boy!” Roosevelt marched along the bivouacs handing out encouragement and commiserating with the wounded. Eventually he came to the stylish tent of a mercurial soldier he had come to admire named Randall Westbrook. Roosevelt reminded Westbrook that he would need to appear at the Lieutenant Colonel’s tent to give his battery’s report. Westbrook looked up and said only “Oh I’m coming! I’m coming!”
After giving his report Westbrook returned to his tent, big enough for only one man, and wrote the following in his diary:
LC Roosevelt is an inspiring sort of fellow. I mean, it kind of sucks that we’re here fighting the Spanish just so we can objectify the same people the Spanish objectify, but no one can doubt our leader’s ability. His qualities are obvious and deserve imitation. I vow, here and now, that my descendants will exhibit this man’s incredible talents (minus the pretty obvious racism).
So they did. For generations. One became a cowboy like Roosevelt did following his wife’s death. Another skipped out on work for months at a time to go camping (like Roosevelt did…DURING HIS PRESIDENCY). Finally, Randall’s great-grandson Russell was born. Never before had a descendant of Randall Westbrook so capably accepted the Roosevelt-inspired mantle (again, minus the racism and colonial greed).
Now I do what I want.
Roosevelt didn’t become president because he loved government and thought it would be totally rad to live in the White House. Teddy came to run ish. In reflecting on what his opponents declared to be an abuse of presidential authority, Roosevelt said “I did not usurp power,” he wrote, “but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power.” Anything Roosevelt couldn’t find to be forbidden in the constitution he believed was permissible.
Russell Westbrook remembered this example and recorded himself yelling the hook to a Lil Uzi Vert song…then made a video using the same song. He also decided not to dribble a ball for several steps during a basketball game in which such behavior is not sanctioned. During a secret interview made available to The Unbalanced Westbrook simply said he hadn’t planned to “usurp” dribbling but simply was getting his “TR” on.
In August, Russy signed a three year contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a basketball team that idolizes Oprah and seeks to give all its favorite things away. Westbrook could have waited a year in order to force OKC’s hand and garner a larger deal from the Thunder or pursue free agency. Perhaps on the open market Westbrook could coordinate his placement on a a team already rich in talent. Instead he re-upped. Again, in a secret interview Westbrook explained his decision making process:
My dad told me this story about a conversation he had with his own grandfather, Randall. He said his grandpa always told him to bust up the trusts, just like Roosevelt. Well that confused my dad a lot because grandpa told him that when dad was like, I don’t know, five years old. Dad thought trust was a good thing, a shared bond between two people but he loved grandpa so he thought he should do as he was told. So Dad just started lying all the time. He would steal things and just generally ruin shit because no one could believe him. Finally when he was a sophomore he took American History and he realized a trust was a industrial monopoly in which an individual owner manipulated the market to raise profits at the expense of the working class and consumer. Dad wished grandpa would have explained a little more thoroughly what he meant.
During recreation league basketball in Los Angeles a eight year-old Russel Westbrook was thought to be too passive. He played the game exclusively with finesse and grace. He avoided contact and shunned every opportunity to demonstrate what was already considerable athletic prowess.
His grandfather, Randall Westbrook’s son, pulled the young Russ aside during halftime. After knocking the paper cup of water from his grandson’s hand he leaned in close in that way that venerable grandfathers do, all creaks and groans and sighs, and told him “Atomize these bitches.” Russell was appropriately taken aback because that was a bad word and he was playing against kids he knew. In fact he planned to play Xbox with them after the game. He started to protest but his grandfather silenced him by taking a worn photo from his pocket. “Here,” he said “put this in your sock.” It was a picture of, you guessed it, Teddy Roosevelt in full military regalia. “Go Roosevelt Corollary on these scrubs” his grandfather said. Russy had no idea what that meant but he caught the gist. In the first play after halftime Russell pump faked a three, took two dribbles, put a forearm into the opposing center’s chest right above the logo for “Sam’s Dry Cleaning” and mashed a one-handed tomahawk slam. He was eight! True story.
That was the beginning of a trend Teddy Roosevelt inspired which Russell continues to this day.