Former Washington Bullet champion Bob Dandridge knows all about playing alongside greatness.
Before he helped Washington win its lone NBA title in 1978 as the missing piece alongside Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, he was the perfect swingman to complement Milwaukee's star duo of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. Dandridge was inducted into the NBA Naismith Hall of Fame 2021 class as a part of its Veteran's Committee, which requires 35 years since retirement to become eligible.
"It's about damn time," Dandridge said in agreement with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller in an interview to be aired on Wizards Pregame Live before Game 3 of Washington's first-round series against the 76ers on Saturday night.
In eight seasons playing with Robertson, who was the first one to congratulate Dadridge on making the Hall of Fame, possesses some great perspective on just how special Robertson's dynamism from the guard position was.
When Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook broke Robertson's all-time triple-doubles record on May 10, he made the once impossible mark seem like a forgone conclusion with the tear he was on the last two months of the regular season.
Though Dandridge recognized the incredible achievement, he made sure to make an important distinction.
"I was happy for him, his family, and was happy for the Wizards that they have someone of that caliber," Dandridge said. "Not in a demeaning, but in a praising way, you know he's a great player, (but) the Big O is the Big O."
Dandridge's point is a good one when comparing stars across decades of change in the same sport.
"This is a different era in basketball. The game is played differently," Dandridge said. "Sure Westbrook is a great player, but you can't compare too many people to the Big O and I don't think anybody's trying to do that. There's room for Oscar and Westbrook in the record books."
While Westbrook has built himself to become an incredibly well-rounded force of athleticism and skill, he had Robertson's all-time mark of 181 triple-doubles to chase. The Big O was in a class all by himself when he played, and has been ever since this past month when Westbrook claimed the ever-impressive triple-double throne.
Though the impetus on shooting from deep has greatly increased in today's NBA, which isn't a strength for Westbrook, both Dandridge and Westbrook have emphasized the importance of being able to impact the game in whatever way their team needs.
On what qualities Westbrook possesses that would allow him to thrive in the same era in which Dandridge played, the Hall of Famer kept it simple.
"Just the desire to be the best," he said.
That desire has propelled the Wizards to the first-round of the NBA playoffs after a torrid start to the season. His competitive drive has not only helped the youth on Washington's roster improve, but also have the mental fortitude to turn their season around and make the playoffs.
Either way, Dandridge wants the history books to reflect just how revolutionary his former teammate was.
"Congrats to Westbrook, but the Big O is the Big O."
Tune into NBC Sports Washington at 6 PM on Wednesday for the start of pregame coverage as Russell Westbrook and the Wizards look to even their first-round series against Philadelphia.