Russell Westbrook played one season in Washington that will likely be remembered most for him breaking Oscar Robertson's triple-doubles record. He helped lead the Wizards to the playoffs and led the league in assists. Still, it might be strange years from now to look back at pictures of him in a Washington uniform.
Though his time in D.C. was brief, about eight or so months, Westbrook left a lasting imprint on many of his former teammates. When the Wizards acquired Westbrook, they hoped he would set an example for their younger players. In hearing their reaction to his departure, it sounds like he did just that.
"Russ was a great teammate. He taught me a lot of things and I took a lot of things from him," Daniel Gafford told NBC Sports Washington at a back-to-school giveaway hosted by the Wizards in Southeast D.C.
"I'm going to roll that into the next season because Russ helped me out a lot. Russ was a great player, I loved playing with him. He was one of the guys I looked up to when I was younger. Just being on the same team as him for a couple of months was great, I loved it a lot."
Point guard Cassius Winston grew close to Westbrook, as anyone could tell just by watching them interact. Westbrook was often giving Winston pointers on the bench during what was Winston's rookie season. They also developed a pregame tradition of leaping in air to chest bump during player introductions.
Winston is grateful for the time they spent together.
"I'm happy for him. He gets to go back home. He was great for me in D.C., great for the organization. He did a lot of great things here. There are no complaints about Russ or the decision he made. I hope it works out well for him," Winston said.
"[Playing with him was] huge. Just to come in as a young player and see greatness, to see it up close and personal. To watch somebody who is going to be a Hall of Famer, that is going to go down all-time as one of the best, to see it up close and personal was an amazing experience."
Gafford had a similar takeaway from playing with Westbrook. Though their time together was much shorter, as Gafford joined the Wizards in March at the trade deadline, both Gafford and Winston said it was Westbrook's steadiness that set him apart.
"It's just the level of consistency he comes to the gym with. He's always the same," Gafford said. "He's always high-energy, yelling and screaming and being a leader on the court. Then, off the court he's one of the best guys you can be around."
"It's just every day, every single day. That type of commitment is hard to do," Winston added. "To be able to see him do it, the attention to detail every single day, every time you walk in the gym with that energy and that intensity, to see that type of player, it wakes you up a little bit."
Westbrook is now off to play for his hometown Lakers. Meanwhile, the Wizards will move forward, perhaps with a few of their younger players better off having played with him.