It took all but two-seconds for Russell Westbrook to mark his arrival in Orlando. On Wednesday, the Houston Rockets posted a video to their social media accounts showcasing the nine-time All-Star soaring through the air to complete his signature tomahawk dunk. It was Westbrook’s first practice with his teammates since March 11 — the same day the league suspended the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19.
After a four-month layoff period, an eager Westbrook attacked the basket with a ferocious expression fixated upon his face. BRODIE IS BACK!
I am very eager, and I’ll be lying if I did not say I was. [I was] just at home by myself away from my family, teammates and organization. I am definitely excited to get back on the floor and get things rolling again.” — Westbrook
The 31-year-old point guard arrived in the NBA bubble on Monday, nearly two weeks after announcing he tested positive for the coronavirus prior to his team’s initial departure. Outside of having a stuffy nose, Westbrook experienced no other symptoms, stating he was mostly asymptomatic.
Albeit forbidden from all basketball activities while in self-quarantine, Westbrook focused his attention on conditioning to stay prepared for the season restart.
“First of all, I am just thankful and blessed to be healthier to go out there and compete again. I‘ve been at home, trying to be productive. Obviously, not able to get on the basketball floor, but finding ways to stay active, doing as much conditioning as I can probably do. We’ll see [the conditioning level] when I get out there, but that’s the last thing that I worry about. I’m in pretty good shape, so I should be all right.”
Westbrook has been sensational during his first season with the Rockets. He was having one of the best years of his career, averaging 27.5 points on an efficient 47.4% shooting from the field, with 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists through 53 games.
His physical condition is not a concern. Westbrook is confident in the hard work he has put in over the past 134 days and is keen to pick up where he left off in March.
Nevertheless, as an African-American male who has recovered from COVID-19, Westbrook is also devoted to making a statement towards today’s societal problems. During his first virtual press conference via Zoom, Westbrook answered questions from reporters wearing a navy blue mask across his face and a “WE HONOR” shirt — remembering the victims who lost their lives at the hands of racism and police brutality.
“I am lucky enough to have my own brand. I wanted to give our guys in the league another way to use their voices without actually talking. This is something that I am most proud of thus far with my brand. Especially by finding another way to make sure our voices are heard and we find ways and make change, to get justice for a lot of these people on the front of the shirt and names that are not here as well.”
At the moment, Westbrook is questionable for the Rockets scrimmage against the Raptors, but Mike D’Antoni says he will let his point guard make his own decision by Friday. Regardless if he participates in the exhibition or not, it is more important to have a healthy Westbrook ready to go by the time Houston restarts their season against the Mavericks on July 31.
“I don’t know. I’ll take one day at a time. That’s all I can do. Just be thankful and blessed to be able to go back on the floor and compete. I’ll take one day at a time. When I’m back 100 percent, you will know.” — Russell Westbrook