russell westbrook

Originally published in SLAM 154

Russell Westbrook dunking in real games in college gyms wasn’t supposed to be something that happened anymore. He left UCLA after his sophomore year, was drafted fourth overall in ’08 by the Seattle SuperSonics, and that was supposed to be that. Then again, the Sonics weren’t supposed to ever leave Seattle, either.

It’s possible that, as you read this, the lockout has ended. As we write this, it hasn’t. And while the various charity games and runs were fun for a bit, summer had to end eventually. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter how much you make, at some point you want to go back to work.

What did this extended summer session teach any of us? The games were high-scoring and highlight-filled but without the structure and context of the NBA, and they didn’t really attract the same sort of interest (or ticket prices). A dispassionate observer may even conclude that the players need the NBA as much as the NBA needs them, and maybe a 50-50 split makes sense after all. And lastly, that anyone—even rising star Russell Westbrook—can go back to school.

Russ Bengtson