OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook sat alone at Thunder's bench about 15 minutes before Tuesday's start against the Los Angeles Lakers, with a basketball between his legs, singing and dancing along with "Grindin & All My Life" of Nipsey Hussle, with the intention of playing a Game in honor of the recently murdered rapper.
After registering the second game 20-20-20 in the history of the NBA (with 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 badists), Westbrook left the field after a 119-103 victory with a big heart, and dedicated the performance to his friend. .
"That's for Nipsey!" Westbrook screamed as he hit his chest.
Westbrook, who grew up in Los Angeles, where Nipsey Hussle was a cultural staple, wore a blue shirt that said Crenshaw, as a nod to a mixtape of Nipsey Hussle.
Nipsey Hussle was gunned down on Sunday in front of his clothing store in Los Angeles.
"Thankful to play the game, but that was not for me, man, that was for my brother, man, that was for Nipsey," Westbrook said on the TNT telecast on the court after the game. "Rest in peace with Nipsey, man, I'm grateful to go out and compete at a high level, man, I'm grateful to have these teammates, thankful and humble to go out and play the game I love."
However, it was an uncomfortable situation for Westbrook to get the last two rebounds needed. He made a substitution for coach Billy Donovan with 1:04 left and the Thunder for 16. With OKC center Steven Adams on the free throw line, Donovan emptied his bench, but Westbrook wanted to stay in the game for the last minute. . A confused Hamidou Diallo initially walked to the ground, then had to move away.
After becoming the second NBA player to publish a 20-20-20 game, Russell Westbrook dedicates the night to rapper Nipsey Hussle.
"He came and told me about that, and I knew he had a close friend who died, and he mentioned it to me and explained it to me," Donovan said of Westbrook. "I think for some of the members of our team, in terms of relationships, it hit them pretty hard the last two days, just talking to them, but I think for Russell, that was something that really meant a lot to him, and basically He talked a bit about it after the game. "
After Adams missed his second free throw, Westbrook caught the offensive rebound and missed a throwback attempt, but could not score the ball.
Adams, a 51 percent free throw shooter, was asked if he had missed the free throw on purpose.
"Just say I did it," Adams said. "I know how to miss free throws."
On the next possession, the Lakers guard, Isaac Bonga, missed a jumper, and Westbrook caught the No. 20 rebound. The Thunder bank exploded, and Westbrook came out on the half-court line celebrating.
"It's just epic," said thunder forward Paul George, also a native of Southern California. "Man, the heart of that guy who is there, honestly, is the amazing thing about this.
"It's the way it's done, they do not do as many as Russ, it takes a special someone to go out and have a performance like that, especially because of how heavy his heart was for the loss of Nipsey."
The Thunder have been mired in routine since the All-Star break, and they were desperate not only to win, but for a good performance against the Lakers. Westbrook and George set an early tone, with George collecting pbades and throwing an inverted 360-degree dunk and another flashy one for two in the first quarter, while Westbrook delivered 10 badists in the first 12 minutes.
"We warmed up with Nipsey and, honestly, I felt that changed everything," George said. "That changed the mood, changed the vibe and we were pumped."
Assuming he plays in the final four games of the Thunder's regular season, Westbrook needs only three badists to secure his third consecutive season with a triple-double average. He published his 31st triple double of the season on Tuesday.
Westbrook has flirted with 20-20-20 games on different occasions, but could never get there. On Tuesday he made sure of it. After the game, he signed a lot of box scores to be shared between the Thunder employees and the ball boys, but he took the historic ball game to his house.
"Just an incredible moment that I definitely will not take for granted, I will not let go," Westbrook said. "Just completely humiliated and grateful to go out and play, man, I do not even know what to say, how to put it in words, honestly, I just do what I can, honestly."