NBA

Dear Russell Westbrook,

on

A mistake we made during the storied life of Kobe Bean Bryant, was we didn’t give him his flowers soon enough.

Only after it was too late did we realize the impact he had, not only on the game of basketball, but on the world in general.

We aren’t going to do that with Russell Westbrook. He gets his flowers today.

Dear Russell Westbrook,

From the minute a brand-new franchise laid eyes on you, it knew it had something special.

But your story didn’t start there. Before the cameras, global fanbase, records, triple-doubles and prolonged success, you were just a kid growing up right outside of Los Angeles. It’s where the foundation of who you’ve become as a player, but more importantly a person, took place.

Anyone who has followed your career knows the story of KB3. They know why you write that on your shoes before every game. They know that’s one of many things that fuels you to be great, to play any given night like it could be your last.

That energy and passion propelled you to scrap your way into a roster spot at UCLA. You were supposed to be the backup behind Darren Collison. But you pushed the limit until you made a serious run at a National Championship alongside Kevin Love. Then you declared for the NBA Draft in 2008.

This brings us back to the brand-new franchise who was curious about what kind of player they had drafted. As the only professional franchise in Oklahoma, the excitement couldn’t have been higher on your first night.

What followed that first night was the development of a franchise, alongside the development of a player and a man.

I grew up, watching you grow up.

As a Player

There are only a handful players in the game of basketball who have to be discussed when referencing the history of the sport. Russell, Oscar, West, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, Steph, and now Westbrook.

That was achieved by doing what was considered the unthinkable.

But this isn’t your first unthinkable moment. You’ve had several. First one that comes to mind is the alley-oop dunk from KD in 2012.

Love it or hate it, we can’t tell your story without Kevin Durant. The duo of you two on the court, the heights you nearly reached. To help lead a team to the NBA Finals at 23 years old in only your 4th season is not only rare, it’s special. If not for Patrick Beverley going MMA on your knee in 2013, I have no doubt you’d own a championship ring right now.

But we don’t dwell on what could have been. We appreciate what happened. As fans, we got to witness one of the most dominant players to ever touch the hardwood.

Anybody who follows the game knows what you’ve done statistically. But more importantly, you’re an MVP. You’ve got accolades spilling out of the trophy case and you not only represented the Westbrook name, but the OKC fanbase and everyone who considers themselves a part of this family, and did it every night.

What’s crazy is, we thought we saw peak Russell Westbrook back in 2017.

Beyond just OKC

We might have been wrong. What you did in Houston before getting injured isn’t celebrated enough. There was a reason people were calling your name for MVP in February of 2020.

Now, you’re in Washington, and what we witnessed the other night is not only historical, but probably something we will only see once in our lifetimes.

And you’re not done. You’ve taken a Wizards franchise which has been floundering for the past few years and turned them into a playoff team, and did so in only a few month’s time.

You’re putting the city of Washington on your shoulders now, just like you did the city of Oklahoma back in the summer of 2016. That’s when you went from icon to idol. That’s when I learned just how much loyalty can mean.

We got to watch one of the top five or ten greatest individual seasons in NBA history, by one of the greatest points guards to ever play the game, on our court. Representing our fanbase.

As a Man

What shines even brighter than your basketball career, is your impact off the court.

From Russell’s Reading Rooms to being an Executive Producer on your own documentary bringing light to the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, the impact you’ve had on your local communities, especially Oklahoma City, is profound.

I still remember when you showed up on crutches with the team to support Moore, Oklahoma after the 2013 category-five Tornado. One of my favorite moments ever since I became a Thunder fan is when you gave away the Kia that you won after you earned your first All-Star game MVP.

Your passion for the community is second to none, and that’s what separates you from everyone else.

Dakota

Years ago, I ran an Oklahoma City Thunder fan account, and in doing so, met a lot of the community. One of my favorite Westbrook stories came from a former follower, who lives in Oklahoma. His name is Dakota. He was born with growth defects and gets by day to day in a wheelchair. He might be the biggest Westbrook fan I’ve ever met.

One day he told me a story about how he’s met you twice. The first time was through an NBA Cares program. The 2nd time, he bought tickets close to courtside and was cheering you on during warmups. You recognized him from your first time meeting, called him out by name, and helped him get tunnel access for the rest of the game. And he boasted pictures of you and him together both times.

The way he talked about it, that could very well be the coolest moment in Dakota’s life. And that’s only one person you’ve touched.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many people you’ve affected in a similar way.

And that’s why we’re celebrating your greatness, not only as a player, but as a man.

Breathe in the Roses

All I ask now, well maybe after the season is finished, is to relish in your accomplishments. Every year it seems you come back with an even bigger chip on your shoulder than the year before.

But there’s a reason the sports world stopped what it was doing to celebrate you on May 10th, 2021. Just look at names congratulating you on 182.

None of this happened by accident. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Yet you stand alone.

From an OKC fan who has admired you, and strived to live up to the example you set day in and day out, I just want to say congratulations. The whole of OKC wants to say congratulations. Your global fanbase, passionate as we are, want to say congratulations. There has not been and there will never be another Russell Westbrook.

You earned it Brodie.

About Adrian Walker

Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Been covering sports since I was 14 years old. I have an Emmy nomination to my name and have helped produce two documentaries. I Co-Host a podcast called the Flight School Podcast which can be found on Spotify and iTunes. My mind is basically a storage base for every known fact about Russell Westbrook.

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