Russell Westbrook is staying and Lincoln Riley isn’t going anywhere, either.
OK, sure. Seems to be that way after a week where we saw Westbrook acting and Riley smiling – the former coming on a made-for-TV commercial, the latter being signed on the line that is dotted.
But the truth is somewhere in between.
Westbrook didn’t sign a lifetime contract. He didn’t even sign a one-year deal. He was acting, and the acting was done in such a way it seemed believable Westbrook was truly never going to leave Oklahoma City. Congrats to Tumi and its marketing team for successfully blending luggage with staying put and loyalty. Meanwhile, buzzwords like “loyalty,” and “hard-working,” were paired nicely with opulent, pricey luggage. Nothing says “blue-collar, OKC,” like expensive suitcases.
But no matter. I bought it – not the luggage, the message. Pretty sure most of us did. That’s what happens when you see a favorite, local player talking up the city and the team we live in and love. That’s advertising.
And while there’s some truth in advertising, the point is a good ad hits you right in the feels. Having Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley “locked in” through 2019 makes Oklahoma fans feel good that its offensive coordinator, a young coaching star is important enough to keep long-term. But more importantly, it’s done to make potential recruits feel good, too. There’s some smoke and mirrors behind the name on the dotted line. The message: Hey, Riley is our guy. He’s not going anywhere. We’re stable around these parts.
Thanks to cinema magic, black and white filters and some cool shots of some abandoned Oklahoma City buildings, it appears Westbrook isn’t going anywhere either.
Well, maybe. We’re smarter than that, right? I mean, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see everything might not be as it seems.
Contracts are binding in the real world. In the sports world they are made for posturing. Recruits see Riley as being at OU through 2019, but yet, most of us recognize Riley, if offered a desirable job, would likely take it. Who wouldn’t?
So, if we know Westbrook is saying the words put in front of his face, and we know contracts in sports are made to be broken, why believe any of it? Well, simply, because we want to. As fans we see a three-year deal and even knowing it’s a gesture of good will, we somehow let our guard down and think it’s something more.
We see Westbrook talking about how much he loves the people and how the people of Oklahoma City appreciate hard work and loyalty and we think it means something more.
Make as much as you want to from a TV commercial. Make as much as you want from a three-year contract. Both are only as valuable as you want them to be.