OKLAHOMA CITY - The Russell Westbrook trade was something most Oklahoma City Thunder fans expected, but it doesn’t make watching the team’s longest-tenured player leave for Houston.
What Westbrook did on the court is obvious considering he’s a former MVP, but Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt says his impact goes beyond the court.
“There’s reading rooms across the city, and Oklahoma City Public Schools, that will always bear his name and his picture,” Mayor Holt said. “His wife opened a store here, we’ve just had a great relationship with him and his whole family. Really, that doesn’t end today.”
In an age where players change teams as often as they change socks, Westbrook stayed loyal to Oklahoma City, despite it being one of the smaller markets for professional sports franchises.
“He understood that he could still do anything he wanted to do while playing in Oklahoma City,” Mayor Holt said. “The guy is the fashion icon of the sports world. He spent his whole June in Paris at the Paris Fashion Week. Being a player in Oklahoma City didn’t hold him back in any aspect of his life.”
Now the city and fans want to repay that loyalty.
One fan wanted to make a special gesture, so he showed up at Chesapeake Energy Arena wearing all 19 of his Westbrook jerseys.
Then one by one he took them off and reverently placed them next to the arena.
“I mean Russ has done a lot, not only for Oklahoma City but for the state of Oklahoma. I mean he is Oklahoma, he pretty much created a culture here,” Yosef Maaroof told News 4. “He’s been my favorite player for at least ten years now, so I just felt like it would something cool to do to honor him.”
Maaroof says even though Westbrook doesn’t play for the Thunder anymore he wants to see him finish his career a winner.
“We all want Russ to get a ring. I feel like he’s the most underrated and disrespected player, one of the most of all time,” Maaroof said. A ring would do so much for his career, so I think everybody in Oklahoma is rooting for him.”
Mayor Holt says he expects Thunder fans will give Westbrook a standing ovation when he plays his first game in Oklahoma City as a member of the Rockets.