Russell Westbrook topped off his three year $85 million a year contract with a press conference. With a player option after the second year, some just see this as delaying the inevitable. Just biding his time a little longer before jettisoning himself out of town.
If that’s how the fans felt then today’s press conference announcing his return should have you feeling better. Per ESPN’s Royce Young, when asked about how his decision came about Westbrook replied “there’s no need to wait if you know where you want to be.”
Westbrook is relishing the idea of leading his team back to prominence. He spent the entire conference alluding to the confidence he has in himself and the teammates he’s surrounded with. Whenever there was a question about Kevin Durant he stuck to the script and focused on his team. He had glowing reviews and endorsements for his two big men in Enes Kanter and Steven Adams.
There is not any worry about the hard work it’s going to take to contend for a title again. He’s ready. He showed the same veracity that he displays on the court earlier today during his meeting with the media. No, there weren’t any cosmic dunks or feats of godlike athleticism. Instead his veracity was channeled into the way he complimented his teammates and organization and in the way he described his enthusiasm. Westbrook even went as far as saying that he wished the season “started tomorrow”
This is what he wanted to do. The front office didn’t plead with him or offer empty promises of success. Sure, $9 million more dollars in his pockets might have had something to do with it. All in all, he chose to compete. Westbrook decided that Oklahoma City is the where he wants to live and play basketball. To the fans that live in that city, that’s all they can ask for.
The Thunder have their leader and they have their marching orders. This isn’t Westbrook coming back; he never left. But somehow it feels like the story of hero returning to save his city from certain defeat.