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Celebrity Slam (06/28/2017)

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T-Swift and Russ

We love it when celebrities cross over into spheres other than that for which they are famous. We particularly like it when relationships are formed – the unlikelier, the better. Sure, feuds are fun, but sometimes friendships can be even more enjoyable.

Which brings us to pop megastar Taylor Swift and now-reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook was crowned MVP during a televised special. Unbeknownst to the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, T-Swift had recorded a congratulatory video in honor of the occasion.

Among other things, she claimed credit for teaching him how to play basketball, going so far as to say that the first time he defeated her, it led directly to one of her greatest successes.

“I remember the first time you beat me at basketball. I was very upset, and you said, if you remember correctly, you said ‘You just have to shake it off.’ And I got an idea.”

She goes on to confess that she and Westbrook have not in fact known each other for 20 years and that her story is made up before expressing her sincere congratulations to him for winning.

There’s very little that is not awesome about this entire situation.

Let’s start with the fact that T-Swift has been largely incognito for months now. She’s been flying WAY under the radar since February and chooses this to serve as a sort-of return to the public eye? A weird congratulatory video in honor of a guy she doesn’t even know. It’s the kind of Swiftian nonsense that implies a future where the move makes sense, even though said future likely doesn’t exist.

Never doubt that when it comes to self-promotion, T-Swift is playing chess while the rest of us play checkers.

As for the other side of the equation – did you know that Russell Westbrook is a legit Taylor Swift fan? We certainly didn’t, but there you go. He has apparently gone to social media on numerous occasions and illustrated his T-Swift love, whether he’s at a concert or just grooving to “Bad Blood” in his car. Dude loves her.

So on the surface, this looks like a mildly-forced cutesy effort at moving the needle. But let’s dig a little deeper – is there something more going on?

Is the NBA attempting to expand their reach as they continue on their path toward globalization? Is Swift trying to generate some brand-expanding buzz in advance of an upcoming project? Or is this an effort by the powers that be to generate a sort of cross-pollination, an exponential increase in the overlap in the Venn diagram of Swifties and hoops fans?

Finding that connection could make a lot of people a lot of money. Every side has a lot to gain here; it’s hard not to be cynical. And speaking of cynical – are we looking at the early stages of another publicity-friendly not-really-a-relationship relationship?

(As always, even the hint of a possible celebrity pairing sends us directly into portmanteau mode. However, this one isn’t super fun because the answer is pretty obvious. While “Tussell” does elicit a chuckle, there’s no way this is anything other than “Swiftbrook.” And that’s fine – it’s a good one – but easy ones take some of the fun out of it.)

Can’t you see it? T-Swift and Russ “dating” for a few months? If she does have an album ready to drop, the timing couldn’t be more perfect – he’s in his offseason, so his schedule is clear. He can hold her hand on the beach, maybe borrow that ridiculous tank top from Tom Hiddleston (RIP Hiddleswift). They can stay together up until training camp, maybe a week or two in, and then we get the break-up and they move on, each of them having gotten a brand-burnishing bump with a different demographic. Maybe the break-up is amicable, maybe she writes a song about it – either way, it’s a win for Westbrook and, by extension, the NBA brand.

Or maybe this is just a flailing attempt to grow interest in an overproduced and largely irrelevant NBA awards show and we shouldn’t overthink it. Just because we want something to be true doesn’t mean it is. Sometimes, a 50-second video is just a 50-second video.

(Long live Swiftbrook!)

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