The Houston Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards this past week. It marked the second time the 32-year-old had been involved in a blockbuster trade in two years, and made many think about his overall legacy.
In a recent conversation with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, Westbrook revealed that he personally does not believe his legacy will be defined by NBA championships.
“Legacy for me is based on how many people I impact and inspire along my journey,” he said.
“… I grew up in underserved communities, I understand what it’s like, I understand the struggle, I understand what it means and what it’s like to be a Black African American in society. It’s important that somebody that has the power, the impact, the ability, the impact, the outreach to be able to put their foot down and make a stand,” he continued. “To me, that is legacy. That creates legacy long term.”
Westbrook was also asked what he thought was most misunderstood about him – a question that earned a laugh from the new Wizards star.
“Where do you want me to start?” he asked. “Well listen, I think the underlying thing about that is 90%, 100% is not even true.
“Because a lot of times, the things that are made up, people don’t actually know me to be able to say anything about me or what I am about or what I believe in. …
“The biggest thing for me is just kind of going and being myself, which is easy because being myself, I can be genuine and loyal and understanding. Obviously, I am not the easiest guy to understand, whatever, watch play, whatever people may think.”
When pressed on how he felt about teaming up with Bradley Beal, Westbrook expressed a lot of enthusiasm.
Alabama went after Coach O hard after the game. https://t.co/SUduHNyY5I
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 6, 2020
“I’m super excited about it,” he said.
“Brad is a superstar talent. … My job is to come in and continue to uplift and push him to be better. That is all I am here for. I am happy to be his counterpart and try to make it easier for him.”
That said, the former UCLA standout doesn’t plan on changing his notoriously competitive approach to the game of basketball.
Imagine breaking into a house thinking you’re gonna find Kylie Jenner and finding a 6’6”, 220-pound NBA star instead.https://t.co/ZRN9T2pjYM
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 5, 2020
“The way I play the game kind of misconstrues people of who I am as a person, who I am and what I believe in and what I stand for,” he admitted.
“Obviously, how I play and off the floor are two different people. When I am on the floor, I don’t have any friends, I am not trying to be friendly, I’m trying to bust somebody’s ass. I ain’t got time to try to shake hands and do all that. I don’t have time for it, and I am never changing that.”
Much as was the case with Westbrook and James Harden last year, his partnership with Beal is very high-risk, high-reward. It could turn out extremely fruitful for all parties involved, or it could become a very expensive unmitigated disaster.
Which one will it be? Time will tell.