Tom Sorensen

Short takes: Why sharply dressed Russell Westbrook’s Thunder has lost its edge

The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be moving in the wrong direction since acquiring forward Carmelo Anthony, left, to play with Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be moving in the wrong direction since acquiring forward Carmelo Anthony, left, to play with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. AP

I don’t devote a lot of time thinking about how other men dress. But, OK, it would be interesting to have a dress-off between Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. They care how they look. They don’t care how you think they look.

Newton looked incredible on his 62-yard run Sunday. Fake the handoff, take off, plant the leg because you’re going one way and, much to the chagrin of Minnesota Vikings’ safety Andrew Sendejo, go the other. When the run ended, fans hugged and danced. If you're a Carolina fan, this was sheer joy. It was one of those moments where you think, “Yeah, TV ratings are down this season and they were down last season. But, man this sport is a lot of fun.”

Westbrook's Thunder does not look good. They acquired two stars in the offseason, Paul George from the Indiana Pacers and Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks. The Thunder were Westbrook’s team, the Pacers were George’s team and the Knicks were, well, Phil Jackson’s team.

I like George, and Westbrook can be amazing. But you can’t win with Anthony. Too often when he gets the ball, the offense moves at the speed of a barge. Teammates could say, or at least think, “Hey, Carmelo, I’m going to go to the bench to check my messages. If you need me, I’ll be back in 24 seconds. ...

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On Saturday, Vasyl Lomachenko, left, fought undefeated Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux is good. I mean, he’s really good. Yet he is the fourth straight boxer to end the fight with Lomachenko on a wooden stool. Adam Hunger AP

▪  There’s a boxer whose talent, savvy and drive are so powerful that you have to watch him to believe him. His name is Vasyl Lomachenko. On national TV Saturday, he fought undefeated Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux is good. I mean, he’s really good. Yet he is the fourth straight boxer to end the fight with Lomachenko on a wooden stool. Four straight opponents have refused to leave their corner. The number is staggering.

Like Lomachenko, Rigondeaux is a two-time Olympic champion. But he had been hopelessly outclassed, and he apparently didn’t anticipate a change. When the seventh round began, Rigondeaux chose not to be part of it. Quit while you’re behind.

Lomachenko, 29, is 5-7 and weighs 132 pounds, and the fight was for the WBO super featherweight title. A native of the Ukraine, Lomachenko doesn’t stop. If he’s not hitting an opponent, he’s thinking about how to hit him. He will make the slightest movement, and as he does the angle at which he attacks will change. A dip, a pivot and his opponent is getting smacked by punches he never anticipated.

Throw a quarter at him, and I swear Lomachenko will keep it aloft with a series of quick, quick punches. The quarter will roll back to its corner and refuse to leave it when the bell rings.

Most of us can appreciate stunning greatness in sports other than ours. Football and basketball might be your sports. But you watch Usain Bolt run, Max Scherzer pitch or Martin Truex Jr. drive and you think, wow, we have something here. Boxing has something in Lomachenko. …

▪  Cool moment at the beginning of the Charlotte Hornets - Los Angeles Lakers game at Spectrum Arena Saturday. Just as the game was starting, the clocks decided not to work. Players returned to their bench, except for Charlotte center Dwight Howard. He joined fans at the end of the court.

The Lakers had the ball, and there was no way that if Howard had joined his teammates he would have heard something new. So he smiled, and gave fans a laugh.

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, above, and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook care how they look. They don’t care how you think they look. Chuck Burton AP

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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