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Why Not Russell Westbrook?

Despite losing Kevin Durant and preparing to carry the Oklahoma City Thunder on his shoulders, Russ hasn’t lost his swagger.

Russell Westbrook can be stingy with his words, but lucky for us his facial expressions give like the Gateses. There’s the face, meant for the opposing team’s bench when he dunks over their tallest player, that says something like, “I just scored two better points than you’ll ever score in your career.” There’s the face the Oklahoma City Thunder star makes when he’s high-fiving his teammates and one pulls his hand away too soon, a face that says, “I will bite your fucking pharynx out if you don’t march back over here and make contact with my hand.” There’s the face when a reporter asks a question he doesn’t like that says, “I know you have young children, which is why I’m not gonna humiliate you in a viral Vine.” And sometimes, as now, on this open-air patio in Beverly Hills, a long way from a packed NBA arena, there’s the face I’ve seen a bunch this afternoon: head canted, nostrils flared, eyebrows appealing to all possibility—a 3-D emoticon shrug that says: “Why not?”

It’s a mantra that’s governed his disposition as long as he’s been in the spotlight, evident in the unflinching way he both plays the game and picks his clothes (fashion’s his other fixation). But his embrace of the phrase Why not? goes back to well before he was famous. “My friends and I started that motto early in high school,” Westbrook says. “That attitude, that mentality, from way back then: Want to go to Stanford? Why not? Want to play in the NBA? Why not? I was never the best player. Not ever in my life. Though even when I was younger, I felt that on any given day I could be. And that mentality’s what’s helped me get over the hump each and every day to where I was meant to go.”

To UCLA. To Oklahoma City. To the NBA Finals, five All-Star teams, an All-NBA First Team. And now, to a lonely new altitude—the sole superstar on a team that forever had two, the odds-on favorite for league MVP. Here is someone who hasn’t been the best player on his own team since high school, and all at once he’s poised to be not just the focal point of a franchise, but perhaps the best player in the entire league.

There’re those giant shoulders shrugging and that face again. Why not?

Read Full Article (via GQ)

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