There is a thing that happens anytime slightly big Thunder related news is dropped. I’m at work and I start to hear the ringing of the G-chat bells in my headphones. They chime in over the top of 2 Chainz shouting “She look like she tryin to walk backwards, bruh” or the new Justin Vernon produced Blind Boys of Alabama album or something.
I click over to my G-Mail and someone’s name is flashing along the top banner and there’s a blue rectangle at the bottom of the page. I’ll click on the rectangle and that rectangle will become a square. Then I see something like this:
“You see what Durant said about Wade?”
“Do you think he’s right?”
“Me too. Harden is better.”
“You see Ibaka’s dating Keri Hilson?”
“She was in Destiny’s Child, right?”
“Ohhhhh. Gotcha. Yea, I don’t like that song.”
“Westbrook’s in the NYT.”
“Why does he dress like that?”
“Wait, do you really think it’s awesome he dresses that way?”
“What do you mean don’t hate on the brodie?”
Stuff like that.
When the Westbrook surgery news hit the news feeds on Tuesday my friend Patrick G-chatted me to say “Westbrook out 4-6”, like he was my sports ticker running along the bottom of my screen. My friend Drew just sends me “Russ :(“. Others send other things, some combination of “That’s tough” and “Does that mean 4-6 weeks from right now or 4-6 weeks from the start of the season?” It’s like getting dunked under water, then, after you’ve been up for air for five seconds, having someone punch you in the testicles, tell you you’re fat, take your swimming t-shirt from you, and push you back in again. Then repeat that about fifteen more times. Just reliving the bad news. Over and over again. Nelly’s back, everyone. Roll your windows down and cruise.
I’m in the camp that Royce coined “screw-that-I’d-prefer-to-have-Westbrook-now”. The silver lining is there if you Bradley Cooper it, certainly. It provides a chance for Jackson to grow up even more. It’ll allow for Durant to get even more comfortable being the initiator of the offense. Maybe it opens up some burn for Lamb in weird ways and the staff gets to figure out exactly how he responds in games. It might allow for Serge to establish himself offensively and gain confidence as a scorer earlier in the season. So on and moral victories. I’d just rather have the fourth best player in the league able to play for the first 4-6 weeks of the season.
* * *
Russ is the engine that makes the car go. He’s our piece of flair, our spirit animal. The Prada Devil. He’s primal. Some combination of bear, raptor, and shark. He doesn’t exist elsewhere. Not in game or in personality. Losing him, for however brief a time, hurts. But the brodie will come back. Maybe to less hating. And it’ll be a good time when he does.