Last night, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and raging bull Russell Westbrook tore through the Phoenix Suns defense to post a historic stat line. Westbrook scored 51 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to drop a 50-point triple double.
While Westbrook was morphing into Superman, another point guard, fresh off his first NBA championship, was busy hitting a dagger 3-pointer to put away the Toronto Raptors in Air Canada Centre. Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning trey to break a 91-91 tie and push the Cavs’ record to 2-0. He finished with 26 points, a few nights after notching 29 against the New York Knicks.
Last but certainly not least, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs dropped 30-plus points in each of the Spurs’ first two games of the regular season—to go along with five steals (five!) in each game. Even by Leonard’s lofty standards, that’s ridiculous. DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings took notice of Leonard’s torrid start:
“He was hitting shots over two guys,” Cousins said. “I heard he was working with Kobe, and there were some flashes of Kobe tonight. He’s really good.”
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Leonard did work with Kobe Bryant over the off-season, at the behest of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and the results are clear. What’s funny is that both Westbrook and Irving also spent time with Bryant this summer, and both have gotten off to monstrous starts to this young NBA season.
Bryant may be in the midst of his first year of retirement, but the Black Mamba’s influence is still very much hanging over the NBA and some of its greatest young stars.