After Westbrook finished deconstructing the video of his broken-field run, Thunder coach Scott Brooks strolled over and snuck a glimpse. "During the whole play I was thinking uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-good!" Brooks says. "He's just an athletic freak." And yet Westbrook is often overshadowed by the similarly freaky. In the first round Durant scored 41 points in a game. Orlando's Dwight Howard scored 46. Boston's Rajon Rondo handed out 20 assists. "I watch these guys on TV," says Hornets forward Carl Landry, "and I'm in amazement."
The artistry can get lost in scoring totals and rebounding margins. The NBA is in the midst of a statistical revolution, like baseball's sabermania, and players are evaluated even by fans on efficiency ratings and plus-minus. Baseball has always been a numbers game. Basketball is best consumed with images: Boston's Kevin Garnett in the fetal position after securing a loose ball, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant gnawing the fabric of his jersey while chasing Paul, Portland's Brandon Roy falling into the arms of teammates who thought they might have lost him.
To anyone who is watching and still longs for the '80s, Walton solemnly intones, "You're getting old."