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Russell Westbrook’s rock-the-baby celebration, explained: Origin of signature taunt dates back multiple seasons

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As the NBA game evolves, so do the ways in which players talk trash.

Sure, the message of “you can’t guard me” may remain the same, but today’s players do more than just say it — they act it out.

Among the many ways in which players mime their trash talk is the “too little” taunt, which also includes Kevin Durant’s “mini” variation. In recent years, Russell Westbrook has introduced an ode to parenthood that doubles as a taunt and celebration.

If you tune into a Lakers game, you’re almost guaranteed to catch Westbrook employ the “rock-the-baby” celebration.

MORE: Why December could be most pivotal stretch of 2022-23 season for Lakers

Westbrook isn’t the only player to bring out the taunt, which, as you may have guessed, has also been used against him in recent years. Make no mistake, though, it’s Westbrook that deserves the credit for introducing this one to the league.

Here’s a look back at the origin of Westbrook’s signature celly.

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Rock-the-baby celebration, explained: The origin of Russell Westbrook’s signature taunt

The celebration itself is pretty simple: Westbrook gets a bucket in the post and then rocks his arms as if he’s holding a baby. 

Sometimes, simplicity is all you need to get the message across.

As for its origin, Bleacher Report shared a compilation of Westbrook’s signature move at the end of the 2018-19 season. It’s unclear whether or not Westbrook had done it prior to that season, but that’s when it caught on.

About a month into the 2018-19 campaign, Westbrook explained the celebration during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:

I’m pretty big for my position and I would say I’m probably stronger than other guys at my position. So when I have smaller guys on me, you have to treat them like babies… The guys guarding me don’t love it so much. Everybody else loves it.

Westbrook’s back-and-forth with Fallon isn’t the only pop culture crossover for the celebration, as it earned a bar on J. Cole’s “a m a r i,” a track from his 2021 album, “The Off-Season.”

Of course, signature celebrations can backfire when they’re used against you or your team, and this one’s no different.

 But it’s a beautiful thing when it all comes full circle.

After its introduction in 2018, Westbrook has brought the rock-the-baby celebration into arenas all over the league during his final year with the Thunder and stops in Houston, Washington and now Los Angeles.

The celebration is something we’ve grown to appreciate from Westbrook, is a signature animation on “NBA 2K” and is now used by players at other levels of the game, too.

It’s safe to say Westbrook is a trendsetter with his fashion and his celebrations.


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