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03 Russell Westbrook, the basketball superstar

Russell Westbrook, the basketball superstar

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Basketball superstar Russell Westbrook is a consummate athlete who just keeps clocking up the records. Now the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard is setting his sights on another summit – the fashion business. Numéro met up with a prodigy.

  • Russell Westbrook, the basketball superstar Russell Westbrook, the basketball superstar

Making the most of after-match interviews to act out the Russell Westbrook fashion-icon legend, he has caught the attention of several fashion heavyweights who are helping him turn the myth into bankable reality. At the intersection of the mighty sports business and the equally powerful American fashion industry – as personified by Anna Wintour and Mark Lee (director of New York store Barneys) – Westbrook has forged his own very particular professional identity, at once athlete, fashion designer and businessman. In other words, a goldmine.

 

Although it’s a team sport, American basketball strongly encourages players’ individuality so as to create a spectacle that can then be converted into dollars. The NBA, which since 1983 runs its own film-production company, NBA Entertainment (the videos are distributed by Warner Bros.), is a past master at staging its stars, turning them from mere athletes into global super icons. With different rules to the European game – designed to encourage one-on-one contact and defence –, American basketball is all about producing a thrilling spectacle of giants fighting man to man before leaping acrobatically into the air to slam the ball through the net. Each year, the NBA names its best player following an exhibition match that has become an event of worldwide importance - the All-Star Game. On the menu are individual competitions and a match pitting the stars of the Eastern Conference against those of the Western. On 15 February this year, at Madison Square Garden, Westbrook dominated the All-Star Game and won the coveted title of MVP (Most Valuable Player) after scoring 41 points, just one little point behind the record set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

 

The only other player ever to exceed 40 points was his majesty Michael Jordan. Quick and exceptionally agile, Westbrook flew through the match with disconcerting ease, leading fantastic fast breaks toward the net, leaping and smashing, always in the right place at the right time to grab the ball and deal a killer dunk...