Remember when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Russell Westbrook wasn’t a superstar?
That led to this fun moment, where Kevin Durant vigorously defended his then-teammate. (Ah, simpler times.)
It also led to this stubborn take from Cuban now.
Cuban said in April, about an hour before Westbrook’s 36-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist performance in Game 5 of the first round to eliminate the Mavs, that a true superstar can carry a mediocre roster to 50 wins and a postseason series win.
“He’s putting up superstar numbers. That’s for damn sure,” Cuban said of Westbrook as the Thunder took on the Houston Rockets on Friday night. “I’m not taking anything away from what he’s been able to accomplish, but I’m not going to change my definition. He’s putting up superstar numbers. You can’t deny that.”
“That’s no disrespect to Russell,” Cuban said. “He’s been a beast. Few have done what he’s done, but I’ll stick by my definition. I’m not saying that he’s not going to prove me wrong and that he [won’t be] a superstar by the end of the year. That’s fine, but I’ll stick by my definition.”
Ever have a dumb opinion and rather than admitting your error, you double down? That’s what Cuban is doing.
Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, and the Thunder are on pace to win 51 games. He can lead his mediocre supporting cast to 50 wins and the postseason. He might not, because more Western Conference teams have superstars – Warriors (Durant and Stephen Curry), Clippers (Chris Paul), Spurs (Kawhi Leonard), Rockets (James Harden), Pelicans (Anthony Davis) and Thunder (Westbrook) – that slots in the second round. But Westbrook is definitely capable.
The term superstar is thrown around to loosely, but Cuban is overcorrecting. By his definition, Kobe Bryant wasn’t a superstar. The Lakers won 34, 45 and 42 games and no playoff series in the three years between Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol.