Russell Westbrook has a lot going for him these days. He is a bonafide MVP front-runner, along with former teammate James Harden. He is on pace to be the first NBA player to average a “triple-double” (more than 10 points, rebounds, and assists per game) since Oscar Robertson did it more than 50 years ago, in 1961-62. He has finally earned a nickname, “Beastbrook,” bestowed by teammate Enes Kanter. And he just bought a huge house in his native Los Angeles to live in with his wife, Nina, shortly after they celebrated the 1st anniversary of their reportedly very happy marriage.
And that’s just the thing. While many expected the Oklahoma City Thunder and their undisputed leader Westbrook to fall apart when Kevin Durant left this off-season to join the Golden State Warriors, they may have discounted just how much the team and player still had going for them. Yes, OKC is not the same as when they made it within a game of the NBA Finals last year, that’s for certain, but the city loves Westbrook and Russell and Nina have embraced their lives there together in a way that is perhaps unparalleled in today’s NBA.
And just as we seem to be discovering more and more that Westbrook as a bona fide star these days, his wonderful home life is also rising to the surface.
With that in mind… here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Russell Westbrook’s Marriage
15 Nina’s A Baller Too
A California native (and Lakers fan) and one of the best amateur players in the state during her time, Nina Earl stands at 6’ 1”, just two inches shorter than her husband. She was a four year starter at Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, CA, where she led her team to the 2006 CIF 3AA championship as a junior with honorable mention All-America honors. She returned them to the title game as a senior, where she scored 35 points and was a two-time CIF Player of the Year.
The two met when they were both playing college ball for UCLA. Unlike Russell however, Nina did not dominate during her university playing days, though did have a reputation for being one of the fastest players on the Bruins. She tied for second in scoring on the team in her freshman year, 2007-08, but saw her points per game drop in each of her three seasons thereafter.
She still plays in rec leagues today, with her husband often in attendance. Its the tie that binds them. Speaking of which…
14 The King Of Outlandish Style Was Relatively Toned Down At Their Wedding
Westbrook wore a simple black tuxedo from famous designer Tom Ford to walk down the aisle on August 30, 2015 to wed his college sweetheart, Nina Earl.
Its not that the wedding lacked flair, however. The event took place at the glamorous Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, with current and former teammates Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka in attendance, R&B singer Keri Hilson (as Ibaka’s date) and Khloé Kardashian (as Harden’s date) in the audience and featuring a surprise performance by Grammy winning artist Miguel.
Perhaps “Beastbrook" didn’t want his outfit to upstage his bride, who wore two dresses, the first by designer Vera Wang and the second by Monique Lhullier.
Despite all the glamour, it was the silly pictures from the wedding’s photo booth that dominated social media following the event, particularly on Instagram. Which recalled an earlier famous photo…
13 The Couple Announced Their Engagement On Instagram
Nina Earl appeared on Russell Westbrook’s Instagram account in September of 2014 showing off an impressive diamond ring. Reportedly for a cost of $700,000, the six-piece elongated cushion cut with VVS clarity was made by renowned jeweler-to-the-stars Jason of Beverly Hills, who also made engagement pieces for celebs like Gabrielle Union and Evelyn Lozada. Westbrook apparently knew what he wanted when he arrived at the store, with it being especially important that he get something of the highest quality possible.
The announcement was accompanied with the text “Nothing even matters..@ninamri3_ forever my lady! LOVE YOU!!!!”
One would think the price tag would impress any reasonable person, but it didn’t stop Basketball Wives of Los Angeles star Laura Govan from responding “that’s cute” and claiming “mine’s a million.”
In retrospect, perhaps its no surprise that the more image obsessed amongst us are non-plussed about Westbrook's gesture as…
12 Russell Is Not An “All Frills And No Substance” Kind Of Husband
Back in 2013, when Nina Earl was still just his girlfriend, Westbrook described his relationship with his future wife in basic terms. When asked to say “whatever you want to tell me” about her, he responded in an ESPN interview with the bare details, saying “her name is Nina Earl. We met at UCLA.” He went on to say “I’m simple, man, real simple” in response to a prompt about what kind of boyfriend he was and that he was not the candy and flowers type.
When asked what he liked about Nina however, he responded “she's a smart girl. She's in school right now, trying to get her master's in psychology. She knows what she wants to do in life, which is great. That's easy for me to cope with.”
The two have kept their private lives very private, with no word on whether or not she is still pursuing that masters, and even less revealed about their future family plans, leading to some recent gossip…
11 Rumor Has It Nina Westbrook Is Pregnant
One Instagram post of Nina Westbrook in a fitted red dress this past November, at a black tie event to induct Russell into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, received a variety of pointed responses from fans including “Someone is expecting….” and “are you having a baby? Congratulations!!!” And, just weeks ago, Nina shared photos of herself in a tight white tank top tucked into jeans, again receiving comments such as “Congratulations!!! bai” with a baby emoji and “Baby Russ on the way.”
Of course, we won’t know anything until the couple decides to tell us. We just hope people aren’t over-reacting to a simple change in body weight. It must not be easy to have how you appear in social media always tied to such rampant speculation. In fact, Nina actually has some opinions of her own to share on the matter…
10 Nina Westbrook Followed Ayesha Curry’s Lead In Women's Body Issues
Ladies... I cannot express how important the notion of respect is to me and for us as women. We HAVE to love and respect ourselves FIRST. In doing so, we will then gain the respect of others. I am dedicated to continuing to prove that it is possible to respect yourself, strive towards your goals, and live your dreams all at the same time. Let's get back to the good old days. #selfloveisthebestlove #selfrespected
In early 2016, Nina Westbrook found herself taking after perhaps the most well-known basketball wife in today’s game, Ayesha Curry (Steph’s better half), who had only months before ignited a debate when she tweeted she “likes to keep the good stuff covered up” and was accused of slut shaming others who dressed more provocatively.
“What happened to the good old days when leaving the house with little to no clothes on was a tad bit shameful,” Nina posted in a mid-February meme. “Ladies… I cannot express how important the notion of respect is to me and for us as women. We HAVE to love and respect ourselves FIRST. In doing so, we will gain the respect of others. I am dedicated to continuing to prove that it is possible to respect yourself, strive towards your goals, and live your dreams all the same time. Let’s get back to the good old days. #selfloveisthebestllove #selfrespected”.
Think what you will about her comments, but whatever Westbrook is doing, its working as…
9 By All Accounts The Westbrooks Have One Of The More Stable Marriages In The NBA
Three weeks after signing a $85.7 million contract extension this past offseason to stay in Oklahoma City (in contrast to the high profile leap to the Golden State Warriors taken by his former teammate Kevin Durant), Russell Westbrook celebrated another commitment on Instagram, posting a photo from his wedding, in celebration of his first anniversary with Nina. His caption read “One of the best days of my life with the most beautiful women in the world. I'm thankful to be able to share the rest of my life with you. Love You. Happy 1 year suga.”
By all accounts, Westbrook’s intentions are true. Around the Thunder, you hear whispers about Russ being wholly devoted to Nina -- which counts as unique in NBA circles.
For her part Nina has captioned various photos on social media with comments like “you never know what life has in store, but whatever it is you have to stay positive and keep pushing forward” and even delighted in her husband’s appeal to the opposite sex, labeling a post of her husband shirtless on the beach with “Babe Watch!”
The sweet couple even have a picture of them with the ever popular Snapchat filter “Face Swap.” But speaking of Westbrook and Durant’s commitments…
8 Nina Was Right There With Russell When He Posted Those Cupcakes
Russell famously took to Instagram to post a picture of Fourth of July cupcakes just hours after Kevin Durant announced he was leaving Oklahoma City to join the Golden State Warriors, a since repeated allusion to former teammate Kendrick Perkins’ word-of-choice when a Thunder player was behaving “soft.” Look closer, however, and you see pictures from the same barbecue with Russell alongside Nina, each rocking their own version of red and white striped clothing.
Interestingly, Westbrook staying in OKC and Durant departing has also been mirrored in their recent relationship choices as Russell “locked it down” with Nina shortly before their final season as teammates while KD broke off his engagement with Monica Wright, a WNBA player (another parallel between the two) prior to the 2014-15 season.
But, perhaps this comes as no surprise, for Russell has always been a family man…
7 Russell Calls Nina, His Parents, And His Brother Before Every Game
In a 2015 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Westbrook said, "Before every game, I call my parents, my brother, my fiancée as well. Sometimes it may not be about basketball, sometimes it just may be about random things. It's just something that I've done and something that works for me.” Indeed, while he is devoted to Nina, he remains very close to his original nuclear unit. “We've been so close as a family,” he noted. “I talk to them every day regardless of whether it's two minutes, one minute, 30 seconds. I talk to them every day. Just on ... about life and different things that may go on. All the time.”
Westbrook famously wears the number “0” and does so as a gesture towards new beginnings upon entering the NBA. The reason for this is he actually wore #4 in high school as an ode to his home foursome of his brother, himself, and their parents. It is still his favorite number for that precise reason.
He also is exceedingly loyal to his friends…
6 The NBA Player With The Longest History With Russ And Nina Might Surprise You
Amongst the crowd at Russell and Nina Westbrook’s wedding was Cleveland Cavaliers All Star forward Kevin Love. A UCLA freshman when Russell Westbrook was a sophomore, he recalled their first meeting.
“I was on Bruin Walk. I was fresh out of high school and was rocking a new buzz-cut (the first haircut in years my mom hadn’t given me). All I knew then was basketball … which is another way of saying I didn’t have any style. Russ, who was going into sophomore year, had both style and confidence … through the roof. ‘Hey man,” he said. “Where’d you get that backpack?’ People were stopping to listen in to Russ digging into me. Russ always attracted a crowd, even then. He was smiling ear to ear. I could tell he didn’t necessarily mean it as a compliment. Before I could say anything, Russ went on. ‘Damn, how big are those Jordans?’ He was already testing me. I knew I was going to like this guy.”
The two highly motivated future NBA stars ended up being roommates on the road where they competed in everything from card games to the temperature in the room. But, “over time, I got to see another side of Russ, too,” Love recalled. “Like the first time he talked to me about a girl named Nina. She was on the women’s basketball team. He would go on and on about her.”
The Westbrooks in fact have clear affection for UCLA, which is part of why…
5 Russell And Nina Have Been Garnering A Well-Earned Reputation For Charitable Giving
In early 2015, the couple gave back to the athletic department that brought them together and gave the largest contribution by former basketball student-athletes in UCLA history. In honor of the gift, the UCLA Men’s Basketball practice floor inside the planned Mo Ostin Basketball Center will, in fact, be named Russell Westbrook Court. In a January 7th celebration of the gift at Pauley Pavilion, husband and wife sat court-side for the Bruin’s Pac-12 Conference home opener and to commemorate the evening, all fans received complimentary eyeglass frames in Westbrook’s trademark style.
“Beastbrook” also won the NBA's Community Assist award in 2015-16 for his work with local charities, which included opening multiple "Russell's Reading Rooms" in different Oklahoma City public schools.
But none of those accolades and acknowledgment compare to the joy Westbrook feels at his favorite annual charity event…
4 Russell Westbrook Loves To Bowl
Russell Westbrook says he typically bowls in the 190s and has even been know to go to bowling alleys on his own during his down time. Teammates Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, and Thabo Sefolosha were all attendance last April for the FOURTH annual charity bowling event for his "Why Not?" foundation, gathering to raise funds for Westbrook’s efforts to bring high literacy and access to books to children in the area (see “Russell’s Reading Rooms” above.) Free bowling, contests and raffle donations, and of course a face to face with their favorite players awaited the attendees.
Perhaps Westbrook’s attachment to bowling has to do with his keen analytical mind, sussing out the angles and spin necessary for success. An honor student at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California, Westbrook says he was accepted to Stanford and offered an academic scholarship.
His favorite school subject? Math.
While Russell may be great academically, he is still a bit of a man around the house sometimes however as…
3 The Westbrooks Have Some Unique And Fun Habits Around Food
Enhancing their reputation for a truly loving relationship, Nina published a video to Instagram of a shirtless Russell cooking her dinner during their first year of marriage in 2016. “❤️ him,” she wrote in the caption below. “When your control freak wife won't let you do it your way... ? #hemadedinnerforonce #kinda”
So Westbrook apparently doesn’t do much of the cooking, but even though he reportedly hates lasagna, he reportedly appreciates the kind Nina cooks. On a less wholesome front, he has to have a PB&J sandwich before every NBA game, and it has to be Skippy peanut butter and strawberry jelly on toasted wheat bread, cut diagonally. He also is supposed to have a particular love for chocolate chip pecan cookies.
And Nina may call herself a control freak, but her husband, on top of the peanut butter and jelly regiment, is never late to the arena and wears the same two wristbands on court every game (one says “Why Not?”, Russell’s life mantra and the other says “KB3” for childhood friend Khelcey Barrs, who suddenly died in 2004 because of an undiagnosed enlarged heart).
Still, Westbrook does look to expand his horizons, and not just with his fashion choices…
2 Nina Got Russell A Guitar For Christmas
Back in December of 2014, Russell Westbrook decided he wanted to learn to play the guitar, and Nina went out and got him one for Christmas. The man who reportedly listens to Katy Perry and Taylor Swift before games with is trademark Apple earbuds (“its good s—“ he has said about their music), was asked how it was going last season, and he responded humorously “yeah, I’m gonna need a lesson.”
There is a particularly funny video of Westbrook on Instagram using a crutch as an air-guitar, to a Taylor Swift song of course, sometime during his battle with knee injuries in the 2013-14 season. We fully expect for him to graduate to being proficient at the real thing soon however, as this is an NBA star who was 5’ 8” as a junior in high school and couldn’t dunk, was only lightly recruited before UCLA took a shot on him, and, oh yeah, plays with perhaps the biggest chip on his shoulder in the NBA.
But that’s why fans love him, and were so scared that he might go the same way as Durant, and leave OKC for a bigger market. Speaking of which…
1 The Westbrooks Just Bought A Home In Los Angeles
Reality television personality Scott Disick sold his contemporary-style 5000 square foot home in the Beverly Crest area to the Westbrooks for $4.65 million in December of 2015. The two-story house features glass doors and a saltwater swimming pool along with views that take in the cityscape, a canyon, and Santa Catalina Island. The home also features a total of five bedrooms and six bathrooms, as well as an outdoor lounge, a sun deck, fountains, and a spa.
Interestingly, Disick is the longtime partner of Kourtney Kardashian, whose sister Khloé was at the Westbrooks’ wedding.
Of course, there have long been rumors of the Westbrooks bolting from Oklahoma City to return home to the Los Angeles area. At the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in fact, Westbrook was asked flatly if he'd like to play for the Lakers someday. “Nah, I like where I am now,” Westbrook said. “Oklahoma City is a great place for me.”
Knowing Westbrook’s belief in commitment, on and off the court, we are inclined to believe him.