Have you ever been to the YMCA, or wherever the local has beens go to relive their hoop dreams, and played with Mr. 0 to 100? That dude who left his off switch in his duffle bag? This analogy is the epitome of the play of 2015 Russell Westbrook and 2015 Hip-hop. Whether you’re an opponent of the masked-machine, or an exuberant rap fan you have to be overwhelmed trying to consume their respective excellence. The intersection of this Venn diagram has to highlight how dominant they’ve been in the 1st quarter.
The 2015 NBA All Star break was Westbrook’s coming out party for the novice basketball fan. Prior to winning the game’s MVP honors, the world had pretty much only known Oklahoma City’s point guard as the questionably fashionable bonehead sidekick to NBA superstar Kevin Durant before he was plagued with injuries and voodoo all season. Coincidently, 2015 Hip-hop’s plight ascended around the time with sporadic album and mixtape releases.
It’s nothing for Westbrook to go super-saiyan on you in a quarter. Averaging 8 points in the 1st quarter, scoring just seems to be the most natural element of the Thunder guard’s game mirroring the way hits come naturally for Toronto rapper Drake. Undoubtedly the best song maker in the game, Drake released his unexpected for sale mixtape If You’re Reading This, Its too Late, which saw every song chart on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart setting a Billboard record. While critics of Drake and Westbrook seem to see their strengths of hit making and scoring as detriments, the two superstars continue to eclipse their piers offering no apologies.
An Achilles heel of Russell Westbrook has always been his discipline of distributing the basketball. A leaders assignment is to orchestrate for others even at the sacrifice of self. Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly embodies that sacrifice with open arms. The Compton emcee comes to the realization that his music comes with a greater responsibility of entertainment and therapy. Knowing that others look to you for leadership, whether it’s for a bucket or for gospel, is a challenge that both the Californians have embraced. Averaging 4.1 assists in the 1st quarter, Westbrook has seen the importance of getting others involved early. Altering his style of play has certainly impacted his teams positioning in playoff contention despite an onslaught of injuries. Russell, like Kendrick on the infamous “Control” verse, realizes that they can put up a shot on any possession; however, both come to appreciate the collective team win as opposed to the occasional water cooler highlight.
Russell Westbrook is an amazing rebounder for his position. Averaging 2.5 rebounds in the 1st quarter, Russ fearlessly battles in the paint always willing to weasel his team to second and third possessions. But perhaps Westbrook’s greatest rebound of the 2014-2015 NBA season is how he has recovered from a fracture of the second metacarpal in his right hand. The injury kept him out of action for 14 consecutive games, which merely seems like an afterthought with the historical play of the killer point guard. After the release of his polarizing temper tantrum album Yeezus, rapper Kanye West has set out to capture the masses hearts once again with his highly anticipated seventh studio album So Help Me God. Searching for a sound that that has been described as “Feel good music,” Kanye looks to bridge the gap of experimentation and nostalgia. Although Yeezus was critically acclaimed, Kanye is certainly aware of the underwhelming reception from a majority of his day one fans. Songs like “Only One” and “All Day” travel different paths, but ultimately arrive at enjoyment, setting Kanye up for a summer tucking comeback.
What’s Russell Westbrook without some careless mistakes? His relentlessness has been packaged as a catch 22— so it comes to no surprise that he averages almost 2 turnovers in the 1st quarter post all-star break. The correlation of a bad decision by Russell Westbrook that leads to a turnover, and the intertwined drama of hip-hop are virtually one in the same. Stories like Lil Wayne’s record label drama involving his hip-hop father Bryan “Birdman” Williams, and the death of A$AP Mob’s Manager “Yams” due to an overdose of opiates and benzodiazepine are always unfortunate. There’s never a right time for a loss of a possession, and there’s never a right time for a petty spat between millionaires, but like Russell Westbrook, hip-hop finds a way always regain focus and captivate us again with its excellence.
While its highly unlikely that Russell Westbrook will actually win the MVP award this year, the excitement the point guard has provided in the 2014-2015 NBA season will resonate with the young minds of fans all around the world like they have with rap music’s chaos this year. Who knows if Westbrook’s effort will even be good enough to make the post season, or if this hip-hop year will be considered “classic,” but you have to applaud their respective efforts. Its impossible to predict what will come next from both subjects, but fans can almost be certain that what comes next will surpass any storybook ending we could ever have dreamed of.