Russell Westbrook is to sports fashion what Babe Ruth is to baseball.
Russell Westbrook got robbed by Sports Illustrated in its first fashion issue.
It’s the biggest snub of the year — an inexplicable and cruel wrong. Or, it’s just utterly ridiculous. Take your pick.
Sports Illustrated failing to give Russell Westbrook the No. 1 spot in its first-ever Best Dressed Athletes fashion issue reeks of the kind of chicanery and shadowy dealings that hasn’t been seen in sports since David Stern ran the NBA. The fact that Victor Cruz, the rather unremarkable New York Giants receiver, beat Westbrook out for the top spot only makes it more ludicrous.
Westbrook completely changed the fashion game in the NBA by himself. He made those once ho-hum shots of players walking into arenas must-see TV. He started the notion of dressing a little outlandish — but not Dennis Rodman outlandish, actual fashionably outlandish — to press conferences and soon had the biggest names in the NBA all looking like poseurs following in his footsteps. Heck, Westbrook practically invented the notion of cool people dressing like “nerds” to gain fashion bonafides. The fake glasses with no lenses? That’s just one of Westbrook’s fashion gifts to the NBA.
Now, everyone from Dwyane Wade to LeBron James and Stephen Curry dresses for the interview podium. That’s all because of Russ. Yet, Sports Illustrated goes with Victor Cruz?!
It’d be one thing if Serena Williams finished No. 1 and Westbrook took second. Serena is an unquestionable style setter who often rattled the painfully-staid tennis establishment — even if she’s gotten much more corporate in her tennis old age. But Williams is way down at No. 4 on SI‘s Best Dressed list, another curious decision.
It’s almost as if the sports bible even knows it’s made a colossal mistake. For who graces the cover of the fashion issue? Not No. 1 Victor Cruz. No, it’s the supposed No. 2, Russell Westbrook — wearing a splendid leopard print coat no less — who is entrusted with moving magazines off the rack. That makes about as much sense as Johnny Manziel’s career plan.
Everyone knows Westbrook is the real No. 1. What’s Cruz ever done fashion-wise? One nice photoshoot in GQ from 2012, back when he was still relevant, doesn’t cut it. Westbrook’s built a relationship with Anna Wintour — and hangs out with her during New York fashion week. He has his own line at Barney’s. This despite the fact that Westbrook plays in the relative hinterlands of Oklahoma City. That takes drive and dedication far beyond anything that will be required to topple the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs.
Yet, Westbrook is somehow not worthy of Sports Illustrated‘s top spot? This is a greater travesty than anything the endlessly debated Laremy Tunsil endured during the NFL Draft. Free Westbrook — for fashion’s sake.