OKC Thunder fans thank Russell Westbrook for myriad of memories

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Russell Westbrook made his visitor debut as the fan base gleefully welcomed him with fond memories from his 11 seasons with the OKC Thunder.

Every OKC Thunder fan has countless memories of the man who wore jersey 0 and as Russell Westbrook made his visitor debut at the Peake those memories were translated via the reception he received. That the fans also got to enjoy a terrific tip to buzzer victory was simply the icing on the cake.

Notably, this article was originally drafted and posted yesterday, but somehow got lost in the internet vortex so it’s been adjusted to reflect what occurred on Thursday evening.

When it comes to the enigmatic Russell Westbrook indifference is the last thing his opponents or fans feel for him. In the case of the OKC Thunder fan base, there are countless memories that resonate from his 11 seasons spent with the club.

As Sam Presti noted the initial era of the franchise is defined by Westbrook. Yes, there was the golden era with the quartet that included Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka.

Countless dunks that left us slack-jawed. Performances in playoff games like steals off Kobe Bryant late in games to seal victories. The Brodie effect of 100 percent commitment not just in a game by game basis but on a play by play basis.

Former teammates stated it was impossible not to give their all when the best player on the team did so every game. And for fans that type of energy and the absolute will to win kept us invested even after the departures of the other trio from the quartet.

His 2016-17 MVP season helped erase the sadness over the KD departure and gave us all something to cling to as Westbrook systematically knocked off team after team with his triple-double efforts and YES even led the NBA in scoring efficiency.

There are moments in sports like certain songs and moments in life that are stored in the brain in terms of where you were when they happened.

Two of those moments for yours truly were the Denver game when Russ produced a triple-double with (the answer to a trivia question in the future) Semaj Christon finally connecting on a 3-pointer to give Russ his tenth assist and the single-season record of 42 triple-doubles.

That game was made even sweeter by the deep bomb 3-pointer Westbrook nailed to win the game and despite the fact it eliminated the Nuggets from the postseason Denver fans were invested in history chanting MVP and seemingly willing Russ on throughout the game.

The other big moment was the night the OKC Thunder trailed the Utah Jazz by 25 points in the third quarter of Game 5 in the 2017-18 playoffs.

I remember saying to fans and friends “as long as Russell Westbrook is on this team no lead is safe”.

Some told me I was too invested and had unrealistic expectations and yet, sure enough, the next day they messaged me in the morning as they’d gone to bed expecting the OKC Thunder to lose, asking “what the heck happened?” To which I replied, “Russell Westbrook happened!”

Russ dropped 33 points in the second half to captain the club to an incredulous 107-99 victory.

There are countless memories like this. Some just of a specific play, entire games or even that miraculous MVP season.

For those who live in Oklahoma City there are also numerous charity events and functions Westbrook, his wife Nina and entire family delivered over the years. The bowling event, Thanksgiving and Christmas giveaways, comedy night and on and on.

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My favorite of his community efforts doesn’t truly fall under philanthropy. Rather, it was a simple, genuine gesture. Over the years neighborhood children would ring the doorbell to the couple’s house on a daily basis and when Nina Westbrook answered they would simply ask “Can Russell come out and play?”

Never fail – regardless of whether he was tired from practice or nursing an injury Russ would go join the neighborhood kids and get up some hoops. This more than anything I ever heard about (it came courtesy of Jeff VanGundy on the Adrian Wojnarowski Vertical podcast) Westbrook is the essence of who he is as an individual and how he interacted with his community.

Whatever your memory, last night offered the opportunity to celebrate and thank Russell Westbrook. Although he is no longer with the OKC Thunder (and perhaps that in itself is for the best) he will forever be revered in OKC.

Long after Westbrook retires and fans look back on the improbable season of 2016-17 and all his accomplishments he will forever be remembered as an OKC Thunder cornerstone— no matter what jersey he dons.

Next. Russell Westbrook Top 10 list from historic triple-double season. dark

We might have cheered against his team last night but we will forever cheer for him as a player and the human he is. Thanks for the memories, Russell Westbrook!