NEW YORK — The new NBA Live 16 looks pretty sick, and Russell Westbrook just let out a primordial scream while watching a friend play at the preview party hosted by EA Sports. It all went down at Jordan Brand’s cloak-and-dagger cavern on 32nd Street, Terminal 23, which is where we were on Saturday night to talk with Russ and get our first extended look at the game.
It also happens to be the very first time Westbrook sees himself in the game after spending a day with DIME and EA Sports, turning the human video game character who runs point for the Thunder into an actual video game character.
Because of this discord, the party is not a very good environment to talk to Russ, even if we are only talking about the game. That caveat is hard because Russ just got married to his college sweetheart and he loves to dance. (We love to dance, too, even though we’re awful at it. We’ve also dated — on and off, and then on again — our own college sweetheart. So we have a lot in common with Russ, except for the whole NBA superstar thing.)
“This is the first time I’ve seen it,” Russ tells us when we ask him what he’s most looking forward to seeing in the game. Then he trails off and loses himself in the introductory graphics. We realize there’s no way we’re going ask anything that will supersede the lure of Russ finally watching himself in the freakin’ game.
All of this is understandable, even if it makes our job more difficult. Despite the struggle to hold any sort of meaningful conversation with him, Russ gets to finally play the game as himself, and we get to watch while standing awkwardly by his side. To be honest, why would anyone want to interrupt Russ when he’s first playing the game?
All we eventually glean during the distracted back-and-forth is that Russ likes “the two-step,” and had a blast working with the EA team in Vancouver. Notwithstanding the struggle of our forced conversation, watching how excited Westbrook becomes just reminds us how much we miss getting that excited about anything.