9 min read

Russell Westbrook: ‘I still have a voice’

For the first time since his surgery, Russell Westbrook spoke with the media Thursday morning. Westbrook, who is known for his oft surly demeanor and cold attitude with the media, was especially charming and polite during the near 20-minute session.

Westbrook came hobbling in on crutches with a big brace/cast thing and struggled to get seated at the table. His attitude was incredibly uplifting, because as we all know with Russ, that dude wants to play and compete. But he’s either moving on, or he’s really good at putting on a happy face.

Obviously a wide range of topics covered, from what his rehab looks like, to what it’s been like for him to sit and watch, to what he wants to accomplish when he comes back and what the process  he went through was.

After the jump, full audio and the full transcript of Westbrook’s availability:


On if he knew something was wrong right away: “Kinda. Kinda sorta. Not a hundred percent. But it definitely felt a little different than usual. But at the same time I was still trying to help my team win the game and go out there and compete.”

On the process of finding out the diagnosis: “It was stressful. Definitely after the game, my knee was hurting. When I got home it wass hurting. The morning of, it was hurting. Getting and MRI is always scary. I feel like every time someone gets and MRI they always come back with bad news. It was stressful. Once I got the MRI, things got real and I had to figure out what to do.”

On the decision to shut him down: “It’s tough man. I don’t want to let my team down. I wanted to compete. I love playing. I want to play in every game as long as I’m able to and able to walk. But this time I wasn’t able to walk or run like I’m supposed to.”

On now missing his first games: “It’s tough. If I’m able to play and able to move around, I’m going to play in the game. But during this time it was tough for me to kind of sit back and weigh my options of what I wanted to do moving forward.’

On having to watch: “It’s tough, man. As a point guard and a leader of this team my job is to find a way I can help my teammates, coaching staff and the organization, they’ve been a big support of me and my job is to give it back. Help them out as much as I can and give my input.”

On how he’s keeping his spirits up: “Keeping it normal. I think my teammates and like I said, the fans and the organziation have done just a great job of keeping it normal. Sending their thoughts and prayers, my teammates definitely, every day always checking on me, which is a great thing. I feel like my job, like I said is to give my input. I’m watching all the games, from a different view now. I’ve never really got a chance to sit back and watch a game, so I got a lot of different things I can say.”

On having to watch games: “It’s different. It’s definitely different. Definitely sitting up in the skybox and seeing a game from a different view, kind of like a fan. Just sit back and kind of see every possession, see how things are going, see how we can do better.”

On when he found out: “We kind of sat down and the medical staff and myself, kind of sat down and we decided that was the best decision for me.”

On playing on it and maybe still playing on it: “No. When I was playing on it, man I was basically playing on one leg. Kind of just hobbling around. You could probably notice, kind of just hobbling around trying to find a way to do what I can to help my team win. But at the same time I was in pain.”

On how much pain he felt: “A lot. Half of it because it was halftime and once it got halftime, it got real stiff. So it was tough for me to come back and start running again and jumping. But as the game went on and the crowd was going and continued to play and find a way I could help.”

On the play: “I’ve seen it numerous times … That’s really something I can’t answer. I know I just hope it wasn’t a dirty play. I’m just moving forward, getting better, rehab and come back better.”

On if the toughest part is mental or physical: “Both. I mean both. Rehab, I’ve never had to rehab anything. It’s tough just coming in and doing the same thing every day. And then mentally it’s tough to stay positive to come in every day and get better.”

On what he’s learned about the team: “They’re tough. I think we have a tough group of guys of finding a way to win. The group of guys we have, I think we have enough to get a ring. My honest opinion. We’ve been together long enough to be able to figure things out when guys go down and I think you can see that.”

On Reggie Jackson: “Great. He’s really done a great job of playing the games, playing with composure, especially going to Houston and taking care of those games and now headed to Memphis, I think he’s done a great job of just controlling the game. Obviously KD handles the ball a little more, but I think Reggie has done a great job of just being consistent and playing his game.”

On the fan support: “It’s great, man. It’s amazing. I think like I said we have the best fans support in the all of sports. They do a great job just supporting whatever you might be going through or what they what think you’re going through they help you out and try to find out where they can help you get through.”

On traveling or sitting on the bench: “For now I can’t travel. Which is tough. But I’m just kind of do rehab each and every day, trying to find a way I can get off them crutches.”

On if he’s gone through something this difficult: “Yeah I have. I definitely have. But this is a different type of event, I would say in my life. But something I have to find a way to get over.”

On what he’d tell fans: “Just have confidence in the group of guys we have. I think the group of guys that are on the floor is a talented group. They know a lot about the game, we do a lot film and things like that and they work on their game as much as I would. I think we have it in control.”

On a timetable for full recovery: “Not sure. I know for the first five or four to five weeks I’m on crutches and then I’ll get off them crutches, we’ll kind of sit down and see what the timetable is for me.”

On his rehab: “Just strengthening my quad and trying to find a way to keep my legs strong … Nah, I can’t do that now. Nah, not really. I tried to, but not much.”

On getting a ball in his hand: “I mean not now. I mean, there’s really no need for me to right now. It’s kind of like, you know, just kind of waiting until I get off them crutches and try to find a way to slowly get myself back. There’s really no need for me to rush right now I think. I just kind of got to wait.”

On helping the team now: “I think that’s kind of my job moving forward. Kind of sit back and find a way I can help my team. Throw inputs in at halftime, whenever I can. In film, in practice, or whenever they need me to.”

On his approach to helping: “As much as I can, especially at home games, before the game. Just like normal. Like I said, keep it as normal as possible. Stay around the guys, may some things here and there. Not too much, let them play, but that’s what I try and do.”

On helping Jackson: “Definitely. I definitely have been talking to Reggie a lot more. But I also want him to learn and get better. You don’t want a guy to go out there and do all these different things. You want him to learn. It’s a learning process for him, as well as it is for me.”

On Jackson’s development: “Huge part. I think the whole process, a lot of people may skip through that. Going down to Tulsa and coming back and playing the different games. Reggie missed half the year, didn’t play. Then he started playing, I think all of that is a process. You can see it’s helping him out. He never really looks rattled or anything, kind of just smooth and just plays his game.”

On hearing from anyone from Houston: “No. Just James, James texted me. And that was it.”

On the most surreal moment: “Waking up from surgery … Nothing much. But waking up from surgery was a little weird. Cause I can just remember going to the hospital and then I just remember my mom sitting there when I woke up. I don’t really remember, that’s the only thing. It just kind of hits you like, ‘Dang, I’m sitting in this bed after surgery and my knee is messed up and I really can’t do much.'”

On if he had pain following surgery: “I was pretty good. All the meds, you know.”

On his outlook: “Come back better. Come back better, a better player. Mentally, I think that’s the biggest thing. Mentally is going to be a big step for myself moving forward with this team.”

On what he’s doing now: “Movies. Watching movies. Hanging out at home with the family. Here with the guys, hanging with the guys. Other than that, can’t do much. Can’t drive yet, so just chilling.”

On where he’s at mentally: “I think when I get an opportunity to sit back, this is my first basically seeing the game from a different view. I may sit out for a few minutes here and there, but to watch a whole game when I’m not playing is different. This is my first time doing it and I think it’s something that can help me. To see some of the things that maybe you guys see, or somebody may see. The crazy shots I shoot at times, I can sit back and see different things, so I think it’s good for me.”

On finally getting injured this way: “It’s disappointing. It’s definitely disappointing. But it’s part of sports. It’s kind of the things that happen in sports, it’s unfortunate. But at the same time, it’s also a time for me to find a way I can do other things, to find a way I can help.”

On where he’ll rehab: “I will rehab here in Oklahoma and try to find a way to get back.”

On emotions: “Yes … During the game, like I said, I’m a competitive guy and things like that happen, at the time I knew something was wrong with my knee. It felt weird. At the time it was kind of painful, but I kind of just went through it and played throughout the game … Disappointed man. It was disappointing man. You never want to be out the whole year. Especially help my team out during the playoffs, it’s a time guys play through everything, and this is something I couldn’t play through and it’s tough.”

On his initial reaction: “I just knew it was hurt at the time. The emotions, hitting the table, it was like, ‘Dang, my knee hurts.'”

On cheering: “I can’t do much, but I fist pump from time to time and find a way to help cheer my team on.”

On his favorite Thunder moment so far without him: “How competitive we’ve been. I think when we lost [Game 5] I thought a lot of people kind of like thought maybe they won’t be able to do it. But as a team they came together and did a great job going to Houston and taking care of business and playing Thunder basketball. I think that’s been the biggest thing for our team moving forward. Everybody has stepped up, everybody has seen their role increase.”

On communicating with KD: “We just talk about the game, about different things about how he can help change the game, helping us move forward. Talking about what I can do to help the team, to help him out. Find a way we can both contribute.”

On teaching KD point guard skills: “I talk to him from time to time, basically every day. Before the game, try to text to him at halftime, text him at halftime, tell him what I see. It’s kind of hard. Playing and seeing is a different thing.

On his support system: “It’s great man. My family’s the best. My mom, my dad, my brother, my girlfriend. They’ve been amazing. They did a great job helping me out, being around, traveling with me. Just helping me out. They’ve been great.”

On the team clearly being worse without him: “It’s hurts not to help. It’s hurts not to help, not to be out there and help my team. I really don’t listen to that stuff, just try to find a way I can help. Even though I’m out, I still have a voice. I can still help my team, still find a way to communicate things to guys. Maybe they don’t listen, maybe they do, but I can still use my voice and try and help my team.”