The Rise of Russell Westbrook
Every NBA star has something unique to offer to their fans besides an explosive performance – both on and off the court. On court, Westbrook is known for his unmatched blend of high-octane action with a volatile personality to boot. Off court, the elite point guard maintains his demeanor with a bold (and colorful) fashion sense that has a cult following of its own.
It’s this very particular blend of aggression and creativity that wins him his fans’ adoration. Born in Long Beach, California, Russell Westbrook III (November 12, 1988) is no stranger to hard work as his outstanding work ethic and natural ability are well known.
While he did exceedingly well in high school basketball, having set 14 double-doubles and scored 30 points or more on 8 different occasions, it wasn’t enough to qualify for most college basketball programs. It wasn’t until Jordan Farmar’s decision to go pro that Westbrook would be offered a UCLA scholarship. Had it not been for this crucial moment, Westbrook’s career might not have been so bright.
On the college team, Westbrook played as a defender and a backup to Daren Collision. After spending two years at UCLA, Westbrook announced his decision for the NBA draft. The Oklahoma Thunder chose Westbrook as their fourth pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Westbrook signed his letter of intent and made an immediate impact.
Westbrook got his first triple-double ever on March 2, 2009 , making him the third rookie in Thunder franchise history to do so. That year, he was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team After an explosive performance in the 2010-11 season, Westbrook was selected for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game as a reserve player, making this his first All-Star appearance.
In 2012, Westbrook was selected to take part in the NBA All-Star Game. He was voted to the All-NBA 2nd Team for the second time in the 2011-2012 season . Westbrook would lead his team to the NBA finals where he recorded a whopping 11 assists and 27 points, making him the second player after Michael Jordan with over 25 points and 10 assists for a debutant in an NBA final. With such an outstanding performance, he was selected into the NBA All-Star Game.
During the 2013 playoffs Russell tore his meniscus in the right knee. This injury would jeopardize the Thunder’s chances of winning an NBA title since their roster was already depleted by injured players. This meant that Westbrook would miss the rest of the postseason due to surgery to repair his torn meniscus.
All in all, Westbrook missed 36 games that year. However, this didn’t take anything away from his impressive 2012-2013 season, which ended on an average of 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 7.4 assists.
He would pull off a major comeback in the 2013-14 season against the New York Knicks where he scored 14 points to help his team achieve an impressive victory. Unfortunately, Russell was scheduled for his arthroscopic surgery soon after, with Kevin Durant filling in for him.
He returned to the court on February 20, 2014, and recorded a triple-double of the season against the Philadelphia 76ers, the fastest triple-double ever in NBA history. This performance would send his team through to the finals of the Western conference.
Westbrook registered 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, and 10 assists in game 4 of the finals against the San Antonio Spurs, making him the only player alongside Michael Jordan to achieve such a performance in a playoff game.
In the 2014-2015 season, Westbrook would sustain a minor injury in his right hand, making him miss 14 games. This came at an unfortunate time because Kevin Durant also had a fractured right foot, putting him out of action for eight weeks. The combined injuries did a number on the Oklahoma Thunders. However, in his comeback performance against the New York Knicks, Westbrook would lead his team to victory with a stellar performance of 32 points.
In 2015, Westbrook was announced to the All-Star game where he recorded 41 points and became the All-Star Most Valuable Player. Westbrook scored 27 points in only 11 minutes, finishing just one point short of the Wilt Chamberlain All-Star game record from 1962.
Westbrook registered 20 points, 10 assists, and 11 rebounds in his win against the Indiana Pacers and a third triple-double for the season (a total of 11 for his career). In all, Westbrook secured 40 points, 11 assists, and 13 rebounds, making him the first player after Lebron James to achieve second consecutive triple-doubles.
Westbrook began his 2015-2016 season by dominating the Orlando Magic with a little help from Kevin Durant, dropping 40 points . This makes them the first teammates to achieve the feat several times in league history, having also recorded it in 2012.
Westbrook was the fourth player in league history to score at least 15 points, 5 rebounds, 15 assists, and 5 steals in an NBA game after his match with the Charlotte Hornets.
In the 2017-2018 season, Westbrook signed a five-year extension contract with the Thunder worth an estimated $205 million. This set the record for the biggest guaranteed contract in league history. Westbrook continued his pattern for triple-doubles in his game against the New York Nicks on October 19, 2017.
Russell Westbrook Biography—Life Outside the Court
Westbrook was born in Long Beach, California to Shannon Horton and Russell Westbrook Jr. He often wears a KB3 tag on his wristband and sneakers in honor of his best friend, Khelcey Barrs III who had dreams of playing together. However, Barrs suddenly died during a pickup game due to a heart condition in May 2004. Westbrook married his college sweetheart, Nina Earl on August 29, 2015. As of 2020, the couple has three children together, Noah Russell Westbrook, Jordyn Westbrook, and Skye Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook actively donates to other causes and charities. He started the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation in 2012, which is geared toward underprivileged children and improving their lives. As a child, Russell Westbrook was taught as, “Why Not?” whenever they were told they couldn’t achieve something. Russell hopes to spread this message of encouragement to other children across the country.