Why I Agree with Mark Cuban on Russell Westbrook
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, made headlines with a bold comment that has cause major backlash, but does he have an actual point?
Prior to Game 5 for the Dallas Mavericks in Oklahoma City, Mark Cuban spent time court side before the game to speak with the media. When discussing how the Thunder only have one superstar on their team in Kevin Durant, Cuban notably made a comment about Russell Westbrook that sent shock waves around social media…
“I think he’s an all-star, but not a superstar.”
He went on to defend his comment by stating what he thinks a superstar is.
“When you look at Dirk, all those years until now, he carries teams to 50 wins,” Cuban said. “To me, that’s the sign of a superstar. It wasn’t until we got [Jason] Kidd that we had another Hall of Famer, and even J. Kidd was towards the end of his career. So for  years when Dirk won 50, that’s a superstar. There are only a few guys where you can put them on any team and they win 50 games. To me, that’s the definition of a superstar.”
This is his personal definition of what a superstar is, just like we all have our own definitions for other vague words. What if your definition of superstar is a player who can do explosive dunks or high-flying blocks above the rim, then Stephen Curry wouldn’t be a superstar in your mind. You could take this and turn it into anything you want it to be, but I think Cuban actually has a point.
First off, Westbrook is a top five player in the NBA. His athleticism and all-around game is something that is unmatched the majority of time on the basketball court. His triple doubles speak for themselves and his talent is undeniable, but is it possible for someone to be a top five player in the league and NOT be considered a superstar?
Once again, it all depends on your definition of a superstar.
For me, its more than athleticism and talent. It’s more than the high-flying dunks and unmatched quickness. It’s more than the knock down mid-range shot and steals in the open court. This stuff makes you an All-Star, a star of the league, an All-NBA first teamer, but in my opinion, it doesn’t make you a superstar. It makes up 90% of it, but it’s the last 10% that I think Westbrook lacks.
To be a superstar in my book you must have the complete mental side of the game in your repertoire too. You have to be a player that you can trust to make the right decision at the end of the game. A player that can be the clear best player on a championship team. A player that can take care of the ball. A player that has passion, but controllable passion for the good of the game. A player, like Cuban said, you can put on any team and win 50 games.
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I’m not convinced Westbrook gives you any of the paragraph above that makes up the last 10% of my superstar criteria. I’m not sure Westbrook has the composure to be the best player on a championship team. His questionable decision-making at the end of games is still worrisome and a lot of times ends in troublesome turnovers. He had his chance to lead a Thunder team, without Durant, to 50 wins and the playoffs but failed to do so. There is still times when watching Westbrook that it feels more like he is just unleashed, instead of composed and leading.
For me, there is only two current players that are “superstars” in the game, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Dwyane Wade are lifetime superstars, but not current players who meet the criteria due to the stage of their careers. I would say Durant, Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard are next in line with Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns still coming into their games.
To reiterate my first paragraph, Russell Westbrook is an incredible athlete and basketball player, a top 5 player in the NBA. A guy who I would love to wear a Dallas Mavericks jersey, but a player that still lacks the next cerebral part of his game.
But once again, before you crucify Cuban or even myself, it all goes back to what your personal definition of the term “superstar” is.