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Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook marks the first time a professional athlete will cover Flaunt Magazine. Known for his explosive play on the court as well as his ability to drop sartorial dimes on members of the press – perhaps best known for his Lacoste Live fishhook print shirt paired with red glasses during postgame of the Western Conference Semifinals – Westbrook delves into a variety of topics that define him both as a person and a player. While a choice excerpt appears below, head over to Flaunt to read the editorial in its entirety.
“I just went out, played hard, and gave 110 percent.”
For anyone who’s ever watched even one courtside interview, that sentiment—if not precisely in those words, then at least in that spirit —will be wearily familiar.
Athletes are frequently derided for speaking in clichés, with some merit to the charge. However, criticisms of athletes in this vein are just as often misplaced—or, at the very least, leveled without an understanding of the whole context. For one thing, it’s frequently the case that the questions themselves to which an athlete is responding resist any sort of meaningful answer. To ask a small forward how he hit this or that shot is not entirely unlike asking a venture capitalist how he determined whether to invest in this or that asset or a skateboarder how he landed a particularly difficult trick. The honest answer to all three questions is something like, “By means of a combination of innate talent, years of training, and experience.” However, such a response would be considered churlish, rude. And so, for those moments when reporters ask such questions, athletes respond in kind from their stockpile of Accepted Clichés.
Beyond that, demanding eloquence from a professional athlete is patently unfair. To succeed at the highest level in any competitive sport requires a sort of single-‐ mindedness and preparation alien to the common man and woman. To ask of a young athlete that, in addition to perfecting his body and its movements—to ask that he also perfect his speech—is unreasonable.