Last night’s (Apr.2) game versus the Los Angeles Lakers was much different for Russell Westbrook with the tragic death of his friend Nipsey Hussle still fresh on his mind. To honor the late rapper/philanthropist, the Brodie put on a historic performance for the ages that would make the Victory Lap crafter proud.
Russell Westbrook never really needs any motivation to do the spectacular things he does on the court night in and night out but this night was different. Walking into the arena rocking a blue Crenshaw t-shirt, it was clear Hussle was on the Los Angeles native’s mind.
Before Tip-off the Thunder point guard sat by himself dribbling a basketball between his legs vibing out to Hussle’s track “Grindin’ All My Life,” clearly intending to ball out in honor of the Crenshaw rapper.
What preceded that was a magical performance with Westbrook recording 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 21 assists. With his incredible showing, he became only the second player to accomplish such a feat joining the great Wilt Chamberlain. After the Thunder’s 119-103 win over the Lakers with a heavy heart, Russ pounded on his chest screaming “That’s for Nipsey!”
Following the game, speaking with NBA on TNT’s sideline reporter Jason Terry, Westbrook spoke on his incredible night.
“Grateful to play the game, but that wasn’t for me, man. That was for my bro, man. That was for Nipsey, Rest in peace to Nipsey, man. I’m just thankful to go out there and compete at a high level, man. Thankful to have these teammates, thankful and humbled to go out there and play the game I love.”
“Just an unbelievable moment that I definitely won’t take for granted, won’t let pass by. Just completely humbled and thankful to go out and play, man. I don’t even know what to say, how to put it into words, honestly. I just do what I can, honestly.”
Westbrook was determined to get the milestone waving off head coach Billy Donovan’s substitution with 1:04 left and the Thunder comfortable up 16 on the Lakers. Rebound 19 came after Steven Adams missed a free throw and number 20 shortly followed after an Isaac Bonga on the next possession. The Thunder bench erupted knowing they just witnessed something special.
Just another reason why the NBA is the best professional sports league in the world. As you can imagine #NBATwitter reacted to Russ’ epic and inspiring performance, you can see all of the Tweets in the gallery below.
Photo: Lilly Lawrence / Getty