Wob: Russell Westbrook’s Defining Legacy in OKC and the Rockets’ Last Attempt to Reinvent

Jul 13, 2019 10:00 PM EDT
Credit:

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0).

  • The Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Rockets on Thursday night in exchange for Chris Paul and multiple first-round picks.
  • Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) details how Russ will be remember in OKC, how his acquisition changes things for the Rockets, and where the Thunder go from here.

He’s been with the organization so long he wasn’t even drafted by the Thunder. It’s poetic justice that Russell Westbrook was selected to be a Supersonic, because that very word would be the incantation of his career.

For 11 seasons, Russ has played the game at supersonic speed — dazzling audiences with his boundless athleticism, inexorable drive, and virulent venom. The weapons he wields, however, have always been a double-edged sword, as his analytical inefficiency in the playoffs continue to stain the narratives revolving around him.

The one aspect of his game that commands a consensus agreement has always been his commitment. Many would use “loyalty” here, but when you are compensated with more money than the GDP of a small third world country, it is hard to label anything as such.

Regardless, Westbrook never stopped bleeding for his city, his teammates, and the game. He played with a dent in his skull, averaged a triple-double for an entire season, breaking Oscar Robertson records that every soul on this planet thought would be safe forever, guarded the gates of the empire after Kevin Durant’s departure like Leonidas did against Xerxes, and never needed an excuse to go nuclear — just a reason.

But today, it’s all over. It is the end of an era in Oklahoma City.

From the outside looking in, you’d figure Thunder fans should be relieved. OKC has not won a single playoff series since Durant left, as the Thunder’s rosters have been overpaid, incompatible, underachieving teases that were only legitimate championship contenders in NBA 2K.