Russell Westbrook: Back to 88 miles per hour


After nearly a month away from the game due to injury, Russell Westbrook has returned in top speed 

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It’s easy to forget that a flux capacitor, a barrel of plutonium and a top speed of 88 miles per hour, in combination, can send you hurtling through time.

Luckily, we have Russell Westbrook to remind us that when he’s on the basketball court, the application of this method permits him to rip across the court like Doc Brown’s DeLorean. The instant he pushes down on the accelerator, there’s simply no catching Westbrook, who roars by opposing defenders like they’re stuck in 1955, and he’s headed for 2015.

Indeed, the Oklahoma City Thunder have already tossed away their 2014 calendars and are gazing toward June 2015, and a shot at an NBA Championship. That hope firstly hinges on Westbrook’s blistering speed and supreme energy, which was on full display last week when he returned to the court against the New York Knicks, after being injured for a month.

When Westbrook is on, dribbling high – then low – with a crossover and a spin, leaping beyond defenders to lay it in, or slam it down, there’s no stopping him

The only sign of his injury, in fact, was a protective brace on his shooting hand, which may as well have been for show, because at a glance, Westbrook looked as brilliant as the airborne time machine in Back To The Future. The fact that this team started with a 4-12 record is surely now an afterthought, like the fiery vapor trails that vanished from the Hill Valley sky.

When Westbrook is on, dribbling high – then low – with a crossover and a spin, leaping beyond defenders to lay it in, or slam it down, there’s no stopping him. No way. When he’s tuned-in like that, as he was against the hapless Knicks (who should just add the word ‘Hapless’ to their moniker), you simply want to be a Thunder fan because it’s riveting.

The diversity he brings to the floor on these occasions is so impressive: driving, dishing, rebounding and outletting, or surging up court with the enthusiasm of a rookie who’s eager to show the coach his relentless motor. For Westbrook, seven seasons in, the machinery seems to only have become more powerful.

There’s a good chance we see the Thunder in the NBA Finals, I think, because they’ve played relatively well in the absence of both Russell Westbrook and the league’s MVP, Kevin Durant. Players like Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams helped to fill the void temporarily left by the two stars, who really should be defined in more esteemed terms now, given their immense value to their club.

This group, with Westbrook and Durant, could look truly terrifying in a few weeks’ time.

We know that Durant is good for around 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game, which just seems as a ridiculous jumble of numbers when added to Westbrook’s output. As such, they should be competing with the San Antonio Spurs or the Golden State Warriors come May, and if the rest of the team can continue its improvement, the campaign should carry over to a meeting with the best team in the Eastern Conference, too.

Next year also happens to be the 30th anniversary of Back To The Future, and I look forward to comparing the vision that the trilogy’s filmmakers had for 2015 with the reality around us. One thing that unfortunately hasn’t eventuated from the sequel is flying cars, though this might be for the best. I also haven’t seen an actual hoverboard, though the internet keeps telling me that they exist.

At least the type of basketball we’ve come to expect from the Westbrook-Durant-led Thunder will be a reality in 2015: foot to the floor, lightning cracking, casting us back, and then forward, toward a thrilling future.

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