If there was any doubt that Russell Westbrook is a superstar in the NBA, it was erased after his 2016-17 campaign. After losing his former BFF Kevin Durant to the already-stacked Golden State Warriors, Russ unleashed a level of beast mode we hadn't seen from him yet, as he broke Oscar Robertson's record for triple-doubles in a regular season, while averaging one per game with his mind boggling averages of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. With his aggressive, attacking style and do-everything mentally, he elevated a mediocre Thunder roster with no true number two scoring option to a 47-35 record and sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Despite a tough series and early playoff exit after losing 4-1 to James Harden and the Houston Rockets, it is clear Westbrook is in rare standing, and at just 28 years of age, a few more seasons like the one he just put up could put him in the conversation for greatest point guard ever, if he's not there already. His passion and drive are evident every night as he puts up big performance after big performance.
In addition to being one of the NBA's flashiest and most exciting on-court players, Westbrook is a fascinating and marketable player off the court, with his no-nonsense press conference, extreme fashion choices, and social media presence. It's clear the NBA benefits greatly from having Westbrook around, as his unique style and personality make him a very visible figure. With that said, his largely clean off-court record and involvement in charities don't mean that there aren't things about Westbrook the NBA would rather you not know. Let's dive in with 15 Thing The NBA Doesn't Want You To Know About Russell Westbrook.
15 He Claims To Be Shy
Westbrook is one of the league's most interesting characters, from his crazy outfits to his no-nonsense personality on the court, to his prankster reputation in the locker room. However, the Thunder point guard describes himself as shy.
"If I get to know somebody, I'll open up, but other than that I like to sit back and observe things."
Some of his teammates have noticed, saying Westbrook tends to enter a trance-like state before each game to prepare himself mentally, but his personality at other times speaks the opposite. Maybe he is shy, maybe he isn't, but Westbrook certainly has no problem finding ways to express himself. His Instagram and Twitter accounts are among the most entertaining in the NBA.
14 He Was A Ball Hog This Season
The Thunder's playoff series against the Rockets said it all. Westbrook played a staggering amount of minutes, took a staggering amount of shots, and scored a staggering amount of points. And it's not like you can blame him, his already weak supporting cast had almost zero confidence in their shots, leaving Westbrook to force the ball in an attempt to keep the Thunder competitive.
With Andre Roberson throwing up bricks from everywhere, including going 3-18 from the free throw line for the series, and Victor Oladipo looking star-struck in his first-ever playoff appearances, it was a miracle the games were as close as they were, and the credit for that goes to Westbrook's super human abilities.
13 He Can't Grow Facial Hair
Nope. The baby-faced star exemplifies masculinity with his powerful slams and aggressive play, but don't ask to borrow his razor because he doesn't own one. According to ESPN, Westbrook has never shaved a day in his life.
That comes as surprising news and is a stark contrast to former teammate turned Western Conference rival James Harden, who's massive beard defies logic at times. Maybe the two could work something out and meet in the middle.
At 28 years old, it doesn't look like facial hair is going to happen for Russ. Oh well. Not having to shave must be pretty convenient, I guess?
12 He Curses. A Lot
Look, we can't deny there's a fair share of foul language that gets thrown around during NBA games, when athletes are competing at that high of a level and dealing with frustrating situations, it's bound to happen. But Westbrook might take this a bit to the extreme.
Whether it be fans, his teammates, the opposing team, refs, reporters, or nobody in particular, Westbrook has a reputation for being a little...loose with his profanity, and certainly doesn't shy away from letting people know exactly what he thinks. The NBA doesn't like it, and have let him know multiple times by fining him for his choice of words. So far, it really hasn't stopped the fiery point guard from speaking his mind and dropping F-bombs whenever he chooses.
Speaking of cursing and refs...
11 He Gets A Lot Of Technical Fouls
From 2011-15, Westbrook had a string of four consecutive seasons with double-digit technical fouls. The emotive guard is never afraid to show just how angry he is after a call or bad play, and it has resulted in a pretty long list of infractions. Westbrook spends a lot of time flirting with the "16 technicals and you get a suspension" rule.
Last year, he spent a lot of time focusing on controlling his temper, and dropped his total down to just seven on the season. This year, however, Westbrook's jaw-dropping, rage filled revenge tour of the league resulted in 15 technicals and one ejection as he narrowly avoided a one-game suspension.
10 He And Steph Curry Got Into A Fight
We've already established that these two guys don't like each other, but things ramped up to another level when the Thunder played the Golden State Warriors earlier this season. When Thunder player Semaj Christon and Curry started shoving right before a jump ball play, Westbrook was quick to jump in and mix it up with Steph. Both guards received technical fouls. While a bit of drama is good for ratings, the NBA can't be happy with too much escalation between their two superstar point guards. The Thunder-Warriors rivalry is great for the NBA, so long as the players stick to exchanging words and maybe a minor scuffle here and there. Speaking of the Warriors...
9 Westbrook And Durant Still Don't Get Along
The Westbrook-Durant bromance in OKC was great while it lasted, but did not result with a ring and ended in a messy breakup last summer as Durant chose to make the richer richer by joining the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook did not take KD's betrayal kindly at all, and the two have been at odds ever since, resulting in some fiery on court battles and off-court shade.
After a game earlier this season, Russell clearly hadn't forgiven Durant, and instructed his teammates "Don’t say what’s up to that bitch ass" as the teams left the court after the game. Durant and Westbrook typically don't talk to each other in what are icy in-game reunions.
8 He's Beefed With Plenty Of Other Players As Well
It's pretty clear Russell doesn't play basketball to make friends. In fact, socializing is probably the last thing on his mind when he steps on the court. His fiery temper and aggressive play have resulted in more than a few on-court scraps, and his history in the NBA has left some bad blood with several players.
At the top of the list for Westbrook is most likely Rockets guard Patrick Beverley. The two players clearly hate each other, and there were no shortage of words exchanged during their recent playoff battles. Beverley is no friend to Thunder fans, who doubtless remember a dirty play in 2013 where a hard foul tore Westbrook's meniscus as he was trying to signal for a timeout.
7 His Pregame Playlist Includes Katy Perry And Taylor Swift
When you think of a player like Westbrook, you would naturally assume he's blasting Eminem, Kanye, or some other hardcore rap music of some kind before each game to get his mind ready for battle. According to an ESPN report, that's not necessarily the case. Westbrook admitted he's actually a big fan of pop stars Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, most noted for their popularity among teenage girls. He can be found listening to them before every game, not on the expensive beats or other headphones most other players are seen rocking, but on the default white Apple earphones.
"It's good s***," Westbrook said. Whatever gets you ready to play, Russ.
6 He Was Very Close To Competing In The Dunk Contest
One of the things that made the dunk contest great in previous generations was seeing some of the sport's biggest stars competing in the event. For Michael Jordan, it wasn't enough to win the finals over and over again, he took his competitiveness everywhere, and it was awesome to watch him duke it out with stars like Dominique Wilkins in some legendary contests.
Today's event doesn't quite have the same draw. Sure, it's great watching Zach LaVine soar from the free throw line, but recent dunk contests have really lacked some star power, and who wouldn't want monster athletes like LeBron James and Westbrook to go at it in the dunk contest?
As a rookie, the high flying Westbrook was almost selected to compete, but lost a fan vote to Rudy Fernandez for the final spot. Fans are left to simply imagine what might have been. Speaking of Westbrook and dunking...
5 He Was Unable To Dunk Until Age 17
It's almost impossible to imagine Russell Westbrook without his signature play: a fast break steal or aggressive drive leading to a thunderous dunk. Westbrook's athletic gifts are a huge part of the player he is today. However, the bouncy point guard only threw down his first dunk as a senior in high school.
A late growth spurt added about six inches to the promising young Westbrook's height, bringing him to the 6'3" he stands at today, and made a huge difference in the things he was able to accomplish on the court. He quickly turned a previously impossible feat into one of his strengths, and has been dunking all over people, from UCLA to the pros, ever since.
4 4. He Was A Late Bloomer
That's right. While most of the select few players who make it to the NBA grew up used to being the best player in their school or area, Westbrook's small size and lack of success in high school were not promising signs for the point-guards basketball dreams. Westbrook didn't even crack the starting five at his high school until he was a junior, and finally began to grow. His senior year he finally broke out, catching the eye of college scouts and committing to UCLA. While he had a slow start to his college career, Russ dedicated himself to getting better, completing grueling physical workouts each day as well as shooting until the sun went down. And it worked, as Westbrook got better each year after that en route to being selected fourth overall in the 2008 draft by the Seattle Supersonics.
3 He Wears Every Outfit Exactly Once
Russell Westbrook has made a name for himself off the court with his extravagant, sometimes ridiculous off court styles that no normal guy could pull off. Whether it's dressing like a fisherman from head to toe, massively oversized shirts, or zebra pattern shoes, Russell is in a league of his own when it comes to pre and post-game style. He even has his own fashion line.
What's his secret? Russell never stops pushing himself to be creative. While a lot of NBAers have a go to t-shirt, blazer, suit, or hat, Westbrook only lets himself wear each item of clothing once. Then he gives them away, according to an ESPN report.
2 He Really Doesn't Get Along With Reporters
Russell Westbrook says what he thinks. And in a world where a lot of NBAers give vague, bland responses to reporter's questions, Westbrook stands out as someone who doesn't shy away from letting people know when he doesn't like a question. He's had several run-ins with the Oklahoma City media, with his chief enemy being writer Berry Tramel.
Tramel has gotten under Westbrook's skin many times before, with the point guard famously saying "I just don't like you" after Tramel got a little too much under his skin. And when Westbrook is tired of talking about something, like he was after the media buzz following James Harden's departure to Houston, he's done talking. "No more questions for you, bro."
1 He Doesn't Watch Basketball Unless He Has To
Most NBA players eat, sleep, and breathe basketball. Whether it's practice, games, workouts, or meetings, players can't get enough and will typically be found watching games even on their off-nights, whether it's to see a friend play, keep up with the buzz around the league, or just scratch that basketball itch. Westbrook, apparently, has better things to do with his time.
"I got other things to do with my life," he told ESPN. "I got a wife. I like to shop, I got fashion. I got other things to do than watching other teams play."
Sure, he's as dedicated as everyone else when it comes to scouting opponents and watching game film. But you won't see Westbrook in front of the TV watching basketball purely for entertainment. It's just not his thing.