OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook COVID-19 philanthropic efforts indicative of his spirit

Former OKC Thunder MVP Russell Westbrook attends Why Not? Foundation 8th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation )
Former OKC Thunder MVP Russell Westbrook attends Why Not? Foundation 8th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation ) /

Russell Westbrook’s COVID-19 philanthropic efforts announced on Jackie Robinson Day are a reminder of the former OKC Thunder MVP’s one of a kind heart and spirit.

Although he’s now in Houston sporting red, anyone who witnessed the previous decade of Russell Westbrook will always consider him a member of the OKC Thunder. No matter what jersey he pulls on it’s impossible to watch him without reflecting back on the numerous moments he provided fans in Loud City.

The absolute commitment Westbrook played every second of every game with is unmatched in today’s era, especially by a player of his ilk. Sure, there are niche role players who bring energy to the hardwood, but in today’s era, it’s more common than ever for the superstars to either load manage or rest on defense to save their bodies and prolong their careers.

Ironically, for the first time in his career, Westbrook is resting in back-to-back games — something he never did while leading the Thunder. With the numerous knee surgeries, the way he plays the game and having reached his 30’s that decision is understandable — and in truth, if anyone has earned the right to take a few games off, it’s Russell Westbrook.

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Where he hasn’t taken time off is his philanthropic efforts. Many players in the NBA are committed to charitable efforts but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who does as much as Westbrook. It’s common for players to do things in their native city (or country) and where they play but the former OKC Thunder MVP is someone who reaches masses of children all over America.

Naturally, he tends to serve up extra efforts in his native Los Angeles in Oklahoma City where he spent the initial decade of his pro career and Houston where he now resides with the Rockets.

His Why Not? Foundation has hosted yearly Thanksgiving and Christmas events, opened reading rooms, held Bowling and Comedy Nights.

His greatest passion is helping those less fortunate especially inner-city and at-risk youth. He partnered with Advisory Board Crystals and his fashion line Honor the Gift to help bring arts education to Los Angeles inner-city kids. In another educational venture, his Westbrook/Brownstein Green Tech Program offers at-risk youth the ability to learn technical programs not typically available to them such as computer literacy, engineering or coding.

Even his everyday habits are of a charitable nature as he often takes clothes he’s worn a single time and drops them off at Good Will.

So it wasn’t surprising when he committed to helping out with the coronavirus pandemic. Westbrook is involved in at least two different philanthropic efforts.

As noted in the tweet above, Operation 42 was created by his friend Thomas Tull in honor of Jackie Robinson. The 42 is synonymous with Robinson’s jersey number. Yesterday’s announcement was apropos given April 15th is Jackie Robinson Day. The date links to Robinson’s Major League Baseball debut in 1947, as the first African American to play in the MLB.

Robinson broke the color barrier almost two decades before the Civil Rights Act was passed. The “42” was his jersey number and as per above Tulco is donating 4.2 million masks and other PPE to medical workers in African American communities who are in most need of the masks and personal protective equipment.

Westbrook is also involved in The Angeleno Campaign created to raise $10 million dollars to help LA families most in need of financial assistance and many who don’t qualify for government assistance. The fund will provide up to $1500 per family.

For more information on this fund and how to donate click here.

Whether Russell Westbrook is on the court or off it, his effort is 100 percent and these genuinely heartfelt philanthropic efforts of his only serve to remind OKC Thunder fans why he will always hold a special place in our hearts.

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Stay safe and healthy.