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robertogreco : russellwestbrook   1

The Misunderstood Genius of Russell Westbrook - The New York Times
"In the swirling cloud of contradiction that surrounds Westbrook, one paradox stands out. He often looks, on the court, like a force of pure chaos: a wild, petulant, fire-breathing hothead. And yet he is also, especially in his personal life, relentlessly devoted to order and control. He builds his days around a series of inflexible routines: calls to his parents, a designated parking spot, morning shooting on Court 3. He expects every room to be neat and clean, at work and at home.

Before games, Westbrook always eats a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and it must be prepared just so: bread cut on a diagonal, fillings spread very thin. (In Oklahoma, the team chefs know exactly how to do it, but on the road Westbrook can’t trust anyone, so he makes it himself.) Three hours before tipoff, Westbrook warms up; at T-minus-60 minutes he goes to chapel. When the pregame countdown clock hits precisely 6:17 — never a second more or less — Westbrook leaps off the Thunder’s bench and screams, “Two lines,” initiating the team’s final layup drill. I asked Westbrook if there was some kind of numerology behind this — a June 17 birthday, a favorite Bible verse. “No particular reason,” he said. “I just do it. Nothing special.”"



"Although everyone who works with Westbrook gushes about him endlessly — he is loyal and generous and as real as a human could ever possibly be, they say — he also has a talent for keeping the people around him slightly on edge. He has a foulmouthed, teasing charm, and a formidableness that makes people think twice, and often a third and fourth time, before mentioning something they’re not sure he’ll like. Perhaps this tension is another way Westbrook has found to maintain focus, in himself and in others — the social equivalent of grinding a blade across a rough stone to keep it sharp."



"Even in the middle of the P.R. office, in other words, Westbrook was having a P.R. problem. He was being a jerk. Watching this performance in person, however, even immediately after my unsuccessful interview, I could see why everyone liked him anyway. Westbrook wasn’t only a jerk, or at least not uncomplicatedly a jerk. By traditional social standards, saying the things Westbrook was saying is bad manners. But that’s in the same way that, by traditional basketball standards, it’s a bad idea to charge into a one-on-four fast break and pull up for a contested free-throw-line jumper. He was a social gambler as well as a basketball gambler, one of those people who know how to play on the line between charisma and rudeness, teasing and affection, especially among people he likes."



"This is the lesson of Russell Westbrook. In a deeply imperfect world — a world where a shooting touch will suddenly abandon you at the worst possible moment, where your teammates might not be good enough to make a win possible, where an economy might suddenly collapse for no apparent reason, where the decency of strangers cannot be presumed — in a world like that, Westbrook’s approach to life might actually be the most rational one. You control the things you can control (family, daily routines, the occasional big choice) and outside that you fling yourself with wild abandon, every day, at every object that seems worthy of pursuit. In the absence of guarantees, in the absence of certainty, in the new American volatility, we can bank on only one thing: total presence, total sincerity, total effort, all the time. That is the sound of one hand clapping."
russellwestbrook  basketball  control  abandon  perfectionism  routine 
february 2017 by robertogreco

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