By Michael Kinney
Russell Westbrook tried to hammer it home. Oklahoma City’s all-star point guard kept going back to the point that he was never worried about resigning with the Thunder. In his mind, it was a forgone conclusion.
At least, that is what he told the media Sunday afternoon when he spoke publicly for the first time since signing a 5-year, $205 million contract extension Friday.
“I like where I’m at,” Westbrook said. “I like to see the fans, and I enjoy where I play basketball, and obviously with the extension, it shows that.”
Westbrook spoke after being given a hero’s welcome by Oklahoma City Thunder fans at Edmond North High School. What was supposed to just be the annual Blue and White scrimmage turned into a time to honor Westbrook’s decision to stay long term with the Thunder.
After being shunned by Kevin Durant a year ago, who was in the same position as Westbrook, Thunder fans have latched onto Westbrook and don’t want to let go.
Westbrook has seemingly done the same.
“You know, I just wanted to be a guy that they know that every single night he left it on the floor, man,” Westbrook said. “I think for me, that’s what I try to do every single day, every single year, become a better player, find ways, and obviously win as many championships as I can.”
Many thought Westbrook wouldn’t sign his extension until after the 2017-18 season. That would give General Manager Sam Presti and his staff more time to prove they can keep the team competitive for a number of years.
But Westbrook saw enough in the offseason to reassure him the franchise will constantly keep on working. The additions of Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Paterson and Raymond Felton have shown that.
“Obviously they made moves to improve our team,” Westbrook said, “and being able to play for a championship and being able to play at a high level is something that I want to do every single year, and those moves proved that.”
One of those players also said Westbrook resigning gives himself something to think about in terms of his future.
“We’ve been on an unbelievable start right now and for him to be committed here, it says a lot,” George said. “Not only in us pairing together but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot. And I’m one person that’s enjoying it here, so I think when that time comes the decision will be easier to make for myself.”
The new additions were on display during the blue and white scrimmage. Westbrook didn’t play after having a PRP shot in his knee before training camp started.
However, Westbrook did practice with the in front of the packed house at Edmond North and said he will be back soon.
“Oh, I’m good, bro. I’m good,” Westbrook said. “When I’ll be back, you will see.”
Oklahoma City fans got their first look at George and Anthony working with the other members of the Thunder. George hit 7 three=pointers and Anthony had hos moments as well.
But it was the passing of the two all-stars that stood out the most. Playing on the same team, they created easy shots for Adams.
Very little can be taken from a 36 minute scrimmage that was missing Westbrook, Patterson and Alex Abrines. But it gave fans something look forward to for when the season comes.
Westbrook sat on the bench coaching and interacting with his teammates the entire time. To look at him it would be impossible to tell that he had just become generational rich and had taken on the pressures of being the face for the Thunder for another five years.
“I wasn’t worried,” Westbrook said. “See, that’s what I keep trying to tell you, I wasn’t really worried about it because I know I wanted to be — it didn’t — obviously with the time and everything, that’s part of the job, but I wasn’t really worried, man.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com