We have talked for years about the uniqueness of Kevin Durant. But is Westbrook's skill set any less rare?
Brooks was asked Monday to think of someone in NBA history as fast with the ball as Westbrook. Brooks failed, though he doesn't claim his memory goes back to the ‘70s.
“He's an amazing athlete,” Brooks said. “He has as quick a first step, and the ability to finish with either hand above the rim, and a lot of players can't do that with either hand, above the rim. You can't ever take a possession off when you guard him.”
Don't look now, but Westbrook's defense is getting better, too. Often in the past, Westbrook would relax or get lost. Not too much anymore. If that continues, the NBA will shudder.
“He can guard many different players,” Brooks said. “Our backcourt is a defensive backcourt, with Russell and Thabo (Sefolosha). They can guard each other's man.”
Foes have thrown up their hands for years on how to game plan against Durant. But is the concern any less on how to neutralize Westbrook, who plays with a relentlessness that casts a mighty shadow over every Thunder game?
“His maturation to becoming an All-Star has really been something,” said Rocket coach Kevin McHale. “He plays downhill and he plays aggressive and he's coming at you.”
I love that term. Downhill. Westbrook point guards the way Franz Klammer skied. Klammer seemed to fly over the snow. Westbrook seems to fly over the hardwood.
I asked Westbrook about his warp-speed basket.
“When time is short like that, you've got to find a way to get the best shot possible for your team,” Westbrook said. “That's what I tried to do.”
But what if a defender gets in your way?
“I'm pretty sure they're not,” said the fireball, who is transforming point guard play the way Colin Kaepernick is transforming quarterbacking and who has the Thunder back in the hunt for an NBA championship.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.