LOS ANGELES, July 13 — Russell Westbrook’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder is over, but he is leaving the franchise and the state with no bitterness.
Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night in a deal that sent Chris Paul and two first-round draft picks to Oklahoma City. But he thanked the organisation and the people of Oklahoma in an Instagram post last night, saying he was “eternally grateful.”
“I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now,” Westbrook wrote. “It’s been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place.
“I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my teammates, the entire Thunder organisation, Mr Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I’ve loved playing here all of this time.
“You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I’ve met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today. I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family.
“I’m leaving Oklahoma with so many friends and so much gratitude. I could never thank you all enough for sticking with me. It’s been a dream and a whirlwind. #WHYNOT”
Westbrook was an eight-time All-Star during his time in Oklahoma City and won NBA MVP honours in 2016-17 when he notched a record 42 triple-doubles.
With the Rockets he will team with James Harden, a former teammate with the Thunder who was MVP in 2017-18.
“When I left OKC, I was sad. Then Houston made a home for me,” Harden told reporters at a sneaker event yesterday of the trade that occurred before the 2012-13 season. “Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn’t happy. Now we’re back. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that. Believe it.” — Reuters