An MVP Vote for Russell Westbrook, is a Vote for The Culture

Dear MVP Voters,

Let’s get it right this time. We the people need you to fight your urge to adhere to the tired party line of the aging sportswriter, who thinks an individual award, should be dictated by team success. Teams with exorbitant amounts of depth and those led by a holy trinity of stars rule the day. Meaning organizations saddled with only one preternatural talent surrounded by a host of flotsam and jetsam really have no shot in earning anything but a gentleman sweep in the second round, at best. In an age where the Atlanta Hawks were a game back from the #1 seed in the eastern conference (2015-2016 season), the weight of an individual players contributions to wins has become less prominent. It was really cute how you all collectively decided to award the Hawks the player of the month trophy, as an acknowledgement of their team effort in going 17-0 over the course of January. It was a turning point in our relationship, and gives us hope that maybe; just maybe, you will do what is best in all of our interests. Vote Russell Westbrook the MVP.

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Russell Westbrook is this modern NBA’s reincarnation of Kobe Bryant, a self-contained maelstrom of competitive fire that thrives in isolation situations, and seeks to be a destroyer of worlds whenever he steps onto the hardwood.  Or in the figurative words of Kobe Bean Bryant, game recognize game. When Kobe Bryant finished 4th in the MVP voting in 2006, it was two years removed from his sexual assault trial and three years since the Malice at the Palace. Over the course of the early 2000s the NBA had been seeking to undergo a major image makeover; this included, but wasn’t limited to, instilling the dress code, tying bigger penalties to fighting, and suspending players who went over a certain amount of technical fouls during the course of the season (in the 2005-2006 season Kobe was second in the league in techs behind our favorite grizzled uncle, Rasheed Wallace). With all that on the table, perhaps we should not be surprised that the lot of you went against basic edicts of human decency, and voted for Steve Nash. Like Bean, the Brody is not the most beloved of players, often held in juxtaposition to the less abrasive, less animated players by the likes of Steph Curry (Russ is top five this year in technical fouls thus far). Like Kobe in the 2006 season, Russell plies his trade on a team that’s collection of talent, is well, about as good as episode one of Star Wars (that’s borderline trash for those who are wondering). Most importantly, like Kobe, Russell is the lone levee standing between his team and an onslaught of losses sure to wash them away into the lottery.

Russell Westbrook is the Chance the Rapper of the NBA. By that I mean, no one is arguing that he is the best player in the league, but it’s hard to find a player who is having a better season than him. Like Lil Chano from 79th, the Brody is a jack of all trades who does the most with least, putting together performances that make you hit up the group chat asking your conglomerate how this man was able to pull this off largely by himself. Russell’s stats this season speak for themselves, of the three main candidates for MVP this season (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard), Russ leads the group in PER, BPM, and VORP. Russell has the Oklahoma City Thunder within a hop, skip, and a jump from a 4 seed. Russell is the greatest triple double threat of all time, when you factor in pace-adjusted play per 100 possessions. Now throw in a dash of being the most petty and entertaining NBA interviewee in the league, and you have to ask yourself how are you not pulling for this man to bring home the hardware, off the strength alone of the potential fireworks at his acceptance speech. It could be akin to when Kanye West won the Grammy, or he could go full “I still got an axe to grind” Michael Jordan at the Hall of Fame, either way the culture and the streets need this.

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Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a dunk during Game 5 of the first round series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 25, 2016. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Let’s walk this back a bit, to 2006, the year Steve Nash won his second MVP in a row. That year the Phoenix Suns had the third best record in the west at 54-28, and Nash averaged a stalwart 18.8 points and 10.5 assists per game. Nothing too shabby, but nothing worth highlighting with the highest individual award in the league, given the context of the association that year.  This was the same season that Kobe Bryant averaged 35 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game for a Lakers team that finished 7th in the standings; which was the highest points per game total since Michael Jordan did it in the 1987-1988 season. Kobe was out there between the lines putting up more shots than your baby cousin playing Call of Duty on easy mode, and had a record setting usage that season to prove it. And the Lakers that year needed every bit of it, that’s what happens when your big three includes Smush Parker and Lamar Odom. Giving Steve Nash the MVP that season was akin to giving Lionel Richie the Grammy for Album of the Year, IN THE SAME YEAR PRINCE DROPPED PURPLE RAIN.  Getting it wrong is contagious, from music to sports, this is a regular occurrence. For instance, in 2003 Ladainian Tomlinson had over 1600 yards rushing AND 100 receptions; he did not make it to the Pro Bowl that year. The NBA is no better in their gross oversights, Bill Russell won the MVP in the same year Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points a game, and Oscar Roberson averaged a triple double. We implore you to do better; in these trying socio-political times it takes each of us doing our part to make the world a better place. This year you have the power in your hands to right wrongs of the past, to make up for the past mistakes of your bespectacled ancestors and be on the correct side of history for a change. A vote for the Brody is a vote for progress, a vote for change, and a vote for #BrodieSZN to continue in perpetuity.

Vote for Russell Westbrook.

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Jotham is consenting for the reader to monitor his movements, including favorite fried chicken restaurants at @jothamkitara.