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Even Taylor Swift Couldn’t Ruin Russell Westbrook’s MVP Moment

An awkward shout-out capped a wonderful night for the NBA’s new most valuable player

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Taylor Swift rejoined the narrative on Monday night after Russell Westbrook won the NBA MVP award, which is of note because it’s the first the world has really seen of her since Kim Kardashian West forcibly removed her from the paint. That was last summer, and aside from releasing her catalog to Spotify at an oddly petty time, she’s been relatively quiet since then. And there have been a number of other opportunities — like, big ones — to chime in, which makes this timing a little strange, and the setting a little funny.

Let’s start at the start of Russ’s MVP moment: Drake was wearing both a turtleneck and a double-breasted peacoat, in late June. Those details are about as extraneous as Adam Silver agreeing just before Westbrook’s acceptance speech that he didn’t mind keeping the Podoloff Trophy safe while Russ read his long list of thank-yous. What’s important is the image of Westbrook saying "hold that for me," to the commissioner, then adjusting his sunglasses. He’s officially the MVP now, but his acceptance of the award just reinforces my earlier thing about how he’s been the MVP this whole time, and anyone just finding out about it now is over two months late. (Over two months was a long time to wait, by the way.)

Westbrook thanked God first. Then everyone from OKC, down to the chefs and the event staff. He invited his teammates onstage. Tears welled in his eyes when he talked about how his parents did all they could to give Russ and his younger brother everything they needed and most of what they wanted. He took the sunglasses off for that part. It was beautiful, and so is he. Runner-up (as in second place and not the winner) James Harden …

… applauded graciously, because he’s also from Los Angeles, a longtime friend, and not a monster. But the GIF I made of the applause doesn’t capture the disappointment at coming thisclose, twice in three years, on his face. But after months of arguing, we (the royal we) have reached the promised land of VALIDATION, and saw that it was good. Amazing, even.

And then a wild Taylor Swift appeared, which made us have to think about things that were not as fun as Russell Westbrook and his velvet smoking slippers. Like where she came from and why she was here. That smushed the state of our feeling about this land back down to just good. And really, that we got here is all that matters, right?

There are plenty of things to say about this, and all of them are probably fair. I personally try not to think too much about Taylor Swift if I can help it. But if my day’s not as good as it might have otherwise been, the truth of it is it’s now Westbrook’s best day.

And look: He’s sharing the wealth.