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Long time Thunder fans will always remember the time former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett declared August 4, 2016 as Russell Westbrook Day.
A year later, after Russ signed a five year extension to stay in OKC, the Brodie admiration reached its zenith and the understandably moonstruck Mayor Mick signed a decree stating that every day was Russell Westbrook Day.
Well, just like my mom told me when I wished every day was Christmas, “But then the day wouldn’t be special anymore.” Point is, most of us probably don’t celebrate nor even remember the daily Oklahoman holiday, especially now that Russ is on his second post-Thunder team.
So on this Monday, which just so happens to be Russell Westbrook Day, I’d like to bring your attention to a new one-off festivity: Happy Russell Westbrook Week.
The Thunder tip off the work week with the Wizards in Washington on Monday night and follow up on Friday by finishing the week with Brodie and Beal in OKC. In a five day span, the Thunder will face off with the former face of the franchise twice.
Just as he did his MVP season when he wreaked in The Peake, Westbrook is running down an Oscar Robertson record. He broke the single season triple double count in 2017 and four years later, he is 11 away from becoming the all-time leader. If Russ goes two for two against the team who will be erecting a statue in his honor sometime in the future, it would likely go a long way in helping the Thunder’s future. As Oklahomans know better than anyone else, when Westbrook notches a triple double, his team typically notches a win. The 2008 NBA Draft’s #4 overall pick could help Sam Presti land another blue and orange Top 4 selection by delivering a couple losses to help solidify OKC’s lottery odds.
Russell Westbrook was essential to the Thunder’s past success. The dynamic pairing of his fury with Kevin Durant’s finesse resulted in one Finals appearance, four Western Conference Finals trips, two MVPs, the second best NBA winning percentage of the decade, scoring titles, assist titles, triple double records and countless memories for a new but passionate and loyal fanbase. A small market team was home to some of the biggest superstar athletes in the entire world, and for the first time ever, Oklahoma was in the global spotlight on a nightly basis. Russ’s positive influence on and off the court as an ambassador for the state was immeasurable.
Russell Westbrook is essential to the Thunder’s future success. Thanks mostly to the Paul George trade, OKC famously has a treasure trove of first and second round draft picks that, combined with budding All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, budding 30-and-D birthday boy Lu Dort, and budding unicorn Poku, gives Thunder fans optimism and hope for the next era of OKC hoops. Well the reason George re-signed in OKC in the first place was because of his relationship with Russ. So Westbrook gets yet another Thunder assist for SGA and all those Clippers picks and swaps. And the return for Russ, who was supposedly untradeable, has turned out to be enormous. OKC received one season of All-NBA Chris Paul, the Rockets’ first round picks in 2024 & 2026, Rockets swaps in 2021 (looking at you, Jonathan Kuminga) and 2025, the Suns’ first round pick in 2022, either the Warriors’ 2021 first rounder (protected 1-20) or the Timberwolves’ 2021 second rounder (essentially a late first rounder), the Nuggets 2021 second rounder, Ty Jerome, and the Ricky Rubio piece of the Poku package.
Russell Westbrook is essential to the Thunder’s present success. As defined by the second half of this season, that means fending off the Cleveland Cavaliers and gaining ground on the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons. No other player will help OKC achieve that goal this week than the King of the Prairie.
So enjoy Russell Westbrook Week. Rooting for Russ to chase history is cheering the Thunder’s past to help the future in the present.