OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook is staying in OKC after signing a contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
On Thursday, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced that Westbrook signed a contract extension with the team.
Just a few hours after announcing his decision to stay with the team, Westbrook met thousands of fans outside Chesapeake Energy Arena before addressing the media.
“I’m a very, very blessed human being,” Westbrook said, thanking God and his family members.
Westbrook continued by thanking members of the Thunder organization, the community and Thunder fans.
“The fans are unbelievable to me, mean so much to me and what I believe in and the player I’ve become to this day,” he said.
“Obviously, being able to come back here is a true blessing. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than Oklahoma City. You guys have basically, kinda raised me. I was 18, 19-years-old and you guys did nothing but great things for me. Through the good and the bad, you guys supported me overall, and through it all. And I appreciate it. Definitely, when I had the opportunity to be loyal to you guys, that’s the number one option. Loyalty is something I stand by,” Westbrook said.
He said that he knew this was the place he wanted to be, adding that he loves his teammates.
When asked why he signed the extension now, Westbrook said. “There’s no need to wait if you know where you want to be.”
He said he wanted to avoid the rumors and the ‘hoopla’ surrounding free agency next season.
On the one month anniversary of Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder, the team got a huge boost with Westbrook signing the contract extension.
Westbrook confirmed that he hasn’t really spoken to Kevin Durant since his decision to leave for Golden State, adding that he learned about his decision to leave the team on the news.
Westbrook said his love for his teammates played a big role in his decision.
“Where I live, people always ask me all the time, ‘Why do you love Oklahoma City? What’s so great about Oklahoma City?’ And I say the people. You guys are the nicest people I’ve been around, I’m not just saying that cause I’m here. Just to be able to be around and walk around, everywhere I walk around, nobody has never said anything to me negatively, always positive, always great encouragement. That’s what I like to be around. I like to be around where I’m loved and wanted and obviously, this is the place for that,” Westbrook said as fans were cheering and holding up signs near the windows in the arena.
Thunder GM Sam Presti says as they were driving through the streets, businesses already had “Why Not?” banners posted around town.
“That’s what makes playing and working here just totally different, totally unique. I would say that today is one of the more remarkable days that I’ve had since I’ve done this job, just because of the way people have reacted to what Russell has chosen to do. he didn’t have to do this, he chose to. It’s days like today that make you realize how fortunate that you are to work or play in a place that appreciates the team and the players on that level,” Presti said.
He says he loves the challenge of the upcoming season and can’t wait for the season to start.