NBA 2020-21: Russell Westbrook has been at this business of basketball long enough to know that authenticity rules.
The blockbuster trade, which sent John Wall and a protected first-round draft pick to Houston, provided a new place for Westbrook to start his 13th season. He promised Saturday that it’ll be a familiar grind, though it will begin with a new jersey number (he’s going from his customary 0 to his pre-NBA staple, 4).
He hasn’t practiced with the Wizards yet, but he’s already studied his situation and prepared himself for the challenge of helping Bradley Beal end the organization’s playoff drought at just two seasons.
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Westbrook will ease into a situation with numerous familiar faces, from head coach Scott Brooks (who coached him from 2008-15 in Oklahoma City) to assistant coach Robert Pack and various members of the Wizards’ training and medical staffs who also worked with the Thunder in the past.
2016-17 MVP. 9x NBA All-Star. 9x All-NBA. 2x NBA scoring champion.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 3, 2020
What did Russell Westbrook say?
Westbrook explained that the player on the court and the persona off the court are two totally different people. “When I am on the floor, I don’t have any friends, I am not trying to be friendly, I’m trying to bust somebody’s ass. I ain’t got time to try to shake hands and do all that. I don’t have time for it, and I am never changing that.”
At the back of three consecutive triple-double seasons at the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets in the 2019-20 season. He was traded to the Wizards this offseason.
“I’m super excited about it man,” Westbrook said on a Saturday afternoon Zoom call with reporters, his first public words since the trade went down. “Brad is a superstar talent. He proved that and showed that last year with what he had. And he’s only going to get better. My job is to come in here and continue to uplift him and push him to be better. And that’s all I’m here for. And I’m happy to be his counterpart and to try and make the game easier for him and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”