Russell Westbrook

As I watched the Boston Celtics hand over a win to the Oklahoma Thunder, I did some exploring about Russell Westbrook, one of the best players in the NBA. Too bad he doesn’t play for my team.

Even though I seldom watch basketball, I recognized this house-old name. He’s a phenomenal player. That’s not only been the case. The light-switch of motivation flipped on  late into his high-school career.

In high school only a small handful of college recruits looked at Westbrook to play collegiate basketball; however,  his inseparable childhood friend, Khelcey Barrs, was recruited by almost everyone. A true Blue Chipper. to compare their lopsided abilities, and size; ten inches and sixty pounds to a teeter-totter, the playground fixture is never getting off the ground.

Motivation is a mystery. It’s not like Westbrook wasn’t trying; he just didn’t know he had room to work even harder.

Westbrook had always been a hard worker, but Barrs’ death triggered a fire inside of him that continues to burn. He saw firsthand how quickly life can be taken from you, and he would never again question himself or his ability. He wanted to become the best point guard on the planet. It seemed like an unlikely goal for a kid who wasn’t even a starter on his high school varsity team until he was a junior, didn’t receive his first college recruiting letter until the summer before his senior year and wasn’t able to dunk until midway through his senior season. But any time someone doubted Westbrook, his response was simple and to the point:

“Why not?”

“Westbrook not only doubled up his effort on the court as if he were now playing for two people; he also doubled up on his chores off the court. He began taking the trash out for Barrs’ grandmother, who lived across the street, every week as Khelcey had done.”

And that’s what fueled the fire. Westbook doesn’t look like he’s ready to slow down any time soon. Not only did he work at being a better player, but he worked at being a better son and person. This is a good way to describe Westbrook from the article:

Every superhero has an origin story. With any good hero, reluctance is expected—just so long as it gives way to ambition and resolve.

My question is what causes reluctance to give way to ambition and resolve?  As a teacher, I’m always looking for that light switch or what ever it takes to change a students complacent attitude to  where motivation steps up to the plate and puts the pedal to the floor.

I’ve seen miracles. Students coming to claim their identity, their life. It seems to happen out of the blue, though it could very well have been a gradual change as students grow up. I love witnessing the about face in behavior, though when a Golden Star falls, a student who gets tired of being good and starts to choose disruptive behavior. I’ve had that happen a couple of times at the military school where bad behavior is corrected strictly until good choices become a habit. When a good student falls from  grace,  that first detention catches everyone by surprise. It takes a lot of displays of good behavior to surprise the judges that surround a permanent juvenile delinquent. Not many second chances are thrown their way.

Some of us aren’t like Westbrook in terms of answering the wake-up call so quickly and to the extent that he’s gone. But need I remind myself that wake up calls have no expiration date; this statue of limitations is limitless.



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