Russell Westbrook was named All-Star MVP on Sunday, this after scoring 41 points and leading the West to a 163-158 win over the East.
Westbrook shot 16-of-28 from the floor. That’s right. Twenty-eight shots – off the bench, no less – and just one assist. Westbrook had 12 more shots attempts than any player on his team, and seven more attempts than LeBron James, who led the East with 21.
Westbrook also played just 26 minutes – meaning he averaged more than one shot attempt per 60 seconds.
It’s easy to look at this stat line – 28 shots, 41 points, one assist – and see both the good and bad of Russell Westbrook. On the one hand, there’s the supremely talented player who can dominate a game, even against elite competition. On the other hand, there’s the ball-hog who doesn’t get his teammates involved.
So, what’s the book on Westbrook? To get an idea, CBS Sports Radio asked Bleacher Report and NBA-TV analyst Jared Zwerling, who had the privilege of shadowing Westbrook this past weekend.
“Well, it was really interesting,” Zwerling said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I had never really gotten a chance to get to know him. I met him once in OKC. It was a shorter time period with him. But look, behind the scenes, he’s interacting with Anna Wintour, with the editor-in-chief of Women’s Wear Daily, with the executives at Barneys. He has an eyeglass line, Westbrook Frames. He’s designed every single pair in his collection – literally. He wants to be on Fifth Avenue. You see Calvin Klein. You see Prada. He wants to have a Russell Westbrook chain. He wants to be a fashion empire. It’s remarkable. He’s doing a lot of work behind the scenes, but he’s partnering up with different brands that are looking for long-term sustainable business opportunities with Russell in the fashion world. Even during the summer, he’s traveling to Paris and attending fashion shows.”
“So what really struck my interest was just he’s very different off the court,” Zwerling continued. “Just seeing him smile and engage in conversation – long conversation – (was not something we’re used to seeing). In basketball, he can be a little shorter with the answers he gives. Sometimes he looks away. He looks disinterested.”
Westbrook’s brother, Ray, said they bond over video games and fashion. Very little is actually said about basketball; instead, it’s mostly about Westbrook’s brand.
“It just speaks to his silent-assassin personality on he court,” Zwerling said. “He has that mean face, but he lets his game speak volumes. But off the court, he’s really more engaged and likes to talk about that stuff. So that’s what I got a chance to see. It was really revealing into somewhat of a private personality in the world of sports.”
If you’re curious, Westbrook and his stylist, Jhoanna Alba, coordinate his loud, outrageous post-game attire. So do many other superstars.
“Everything is very calculated as far as what these guys (wear),” Zwerling said. “I can’t speak to every player, but I can tell you the top superstars – that’s calculated weeks before . . . what they’re going to wear. Sometimes they go through different looks and they kind of pick and choose what they want to wear. It’s a really big business now. Certain guys are definitely elevating in that field, and I think one day you’re going to see guys like Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo (Anthony), LeBron – who knows? Who knows who’s next? But they’re going to be on Fifth Avenue.”