As foretold in the prophetic HBO series The Wire, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season ended exactly as we should have expected, with the Thunder missing out on the playoffs. In fact, this entire NBA season (especially post-All Star Break) was described in Season 4.
The key to the interpretation is Russell Westbrook – I’m far from the only person to associate him with Bodie every time I see him. Not only does he look similar to J. D. Williams as he played Preston “Bodie” Broadus throughout the series, but he plays basketball exactly like Bodie approached the Baltimore streets.
The criticism of Westbrook is that he doesn’t always have the big picture in mind. He doesn’t have perhaps the gift of organization and always doing the right thing that will do the most good. However, he shows up every day. He’s extremely loyal. He’s always going out to do his best in the way he sees as best. When he doesn’t respect D’Angelo, he doesn’t do what he says and does what he thinks is right. When Westbrook maybe isn’t running what Scott Brooks draws up, he’s doing the exact same thing. And maybe Westbrook is the one who’s right after all.
Let’s look at how Season 4 played out for Bodie vs. how the 2014-15 season played out for Westbrook and the Thunder.
The Wire, Season 4: The Barksdale crew has been all but destroyed. Avon is gone (others online have gone so far as to say Kevin Durant resembles Avon; I don’t see it much, but he was the kingpin and Durant, similarly, was the league MVP). Everyone but Bodie, Poot, and Slim Charles is dead, in prison, or otherwise out of the game.
Oklahoma City Thunder, 2015: The team has been all but destroyed. Kevin Durant is out. Serge Ibaka goes down with an injury. Reggie Jackson has been shipped out. It’s Westbrook and some guys that have been cobbled together to try to make things happen, holding onto that eight seed like Bodie was holding onto the one corner he had left.
The Wire, Season 4: The Stanfield crew is the most powerful gang in town. They’re ruthless and efficient and stop at nothing to get their way.
San Antonio Spurs, 2015: The Spurs, long having been no one’s favorite team, are back to their old ways. The defending champs go on a tear after the All-Star break, as they are ruthlessly efficient and take out team after team as they climb the standings, looking like they’re going to repeat as everyone else thinks “Man, I hate these guys.”
The Wire, Season 4: Bodie is forced to “join” the Stanfield crew. The first opportunity he has to help destroy them, it’s clear he’ll take it. He may need to work for them to keep living, but he’s not going to be on their side.
Oklahoma City Thunder, 2015: The Thunder sit just out of playoff position before the last game of the season. The Spurs can help ensure that they get to the playoffs by winning against the New Orleans Pelicans. Oklahoma City is going to win their game of the night. Prior to the game, the media asks Westbrook if he’ll be rooting for the Spurs that night.
While everyone else on the Thunder spouted clichés about how they respect the Spurs or how they don’t like them but they’ll definitely be rooting for them for one night, Westbrook responded with “I ain’t gotta root for nobody.” The Spurs can force him to need them, but they can’t force him to root for them.
The Wire, Season 4: The Stanfield gang does not respond well to Bodie talking with McNulty.
San Antonio Spurs, 2015: The Spurs do not respond well to Westbrook’s refusal to root for them.
The Wire, Season 4: Chris and Snoop set out to kill Bodie. Unlike the rest of their victims, Bodie stands his ground and refuses to go quietly, although he knows he’s going to die anyway. Eventually, O-Dog, one of the kids on the rise in the streets, comes up from behind and kills Bodie.
(NSFW language, plus someone getting shot in the head)
Final day of the NBA regular season, 2015: The Spurs set out to kill Westbrook and the Thunder rather than worrying about their own goals. Westbrook, knowing that he’s probably not going to make the playoffs anyway, puts up 34 points in the first half in an easy win over the Timberwolves. Eventually Anthony Davis, part of the new crew of kids on the rise in the NBA, puts Westbrook’s season to sleep.
Overall, just like The Wire’s Season 4 was about the arrival of a new generation, this NBA season was about the arrival of the league’s next set of superstars as the old ones started to fade back a bit due to injury or fatigue or just saving themselves for the postseason. James Harden went from great to an MVP candidate. Steph Curry and Anthony Davis took the league by storm.
And, unfortunately, with all the interesting storylines going on and with lots to be excited about for fans…the most fun character just got taken away from us too early.