Russell Westbrook is the Oklahoma City Thunder now. With Kevin Durant having abandoned the team in search of green pastures and golden rings on the West Coast, his former teammate and second in command remains. Westbrook even reworked his contract to guarantee that he’ll stay in Oklahoma for at least two more more seasons. In the wake of Durant’s disruptive departure, the city embraced Westbrook even more tightly, putting his name on a building and celebrating his new contract at a press conference that felt like the Beatles landing in the United States.
But none of that adoration could top the praise that Michael Jordan heaped on Westbrook a few weeks ago, when His Airness was in Las Vegas for the release of the Air Jordan XXXI, a shoe that Westbrook has been made the face of. In a video that played at the event, a short film detailing the shoe and how it fits Westbrook’s style of play, Jordan appeared on the screen and said this, via Complex:
“Thirty years ago, that’s me,” Jordan said of Westbrook. “The attitude, trying to prove myself, showing so much passion for the game of basketball. You see it in his play. You can tell he loves the game, he plays with energy and flair.”
To be fair, Westbrook is a fellow Jordan Brand athlete, and this was a commercial for the brand. But it isn’t hard to understand why MJ would feel that way, given the relentless, sometimes obsessive, way Westbrook plays the game of basketball. You have imagine Jordan would have been thrilled to have a teammate like Westbrook who shares his absolute need to compete and win at everything he does.
With all the good that’s surrounded Westbrook over these past few weeks, those comments from one of the greatest players ever have to take the cake.