Russell Westbrook has proven to be one of the most intense, passionate NBA players of his era.
The emotion and effort he displays on the court are unmatched by any player he goes up against and rivals some of the game's most legendary figures.
Kendrick Perkins, who played five of his 14 years in the NBA with Westbrook in Oklahoma City, joined Wizards Pregame Live to discuss his former teammate's intensity on and off the floor and how fast Westbrook reminded him of Kevin Garnett.
"It was a week in [with OKC], and KG called me and was like, 'What's up, big fella? How you feeling man? What [are] them youngins like?'" Perkins said. "I just remember telling him, I was like, 'Man, Russell Westbrook is just a smaller version of you as far as his mentality.'"
Perkins played with Garnett in Boston for three years. They won a championship together in 2008 and nearly won another in 2010. Perkins knows exactly what it's like to play with a player like Garnett, and he saw it right away with a 22-year-old Westbrook.
"You have those certain guys where you just walk into an arena and you have that comfort of knowing that we're gonna win this game or we're gonna have a chance of winning this game because of him," Perkins said. "[Westbrook] gave us swagger. They have that old saying where, 'If you see him in a fight with a bear, to help the bear.' I changed it up with him where I was like, 'Pour the honey on Russ because after he finish spanking up on that bear he's gonna want other bears to come so he can whoop them too.'
"KG had a different approach, and his noise talking was on another level. Like he'd drop them bars," he said. "Russ, he doesn't really talk noise. He does, but it's more so just showing emotions, yelling and things to that nature. But to be honest, they're on the same level."
Another moment Perkins remembers is in his early days with the Thunder. Just five or so games into his Oklahoma City career, the big man found out that it wasn't acceptable to jog down the floor in transition after a miss.
"Once he gets the rebound, he always pushes the pace, and I was [trailing] a bit," Perkins said. "He said, 'Hey Perk man, you gotta get your big [expletive] down the court man. You need to hurry up and get down there.' I was like, 'Who you talking to?' He said, 'I'm talking to you,' and he meant it, and I couldn't say anything. I was like, 'Nah, he's not playing any games.
"Russ is the type where he don't care if you make mistakes, he just wants to see you going hard. He don't get on you about missing shots, he'll get on you for things about not blocking out, or not contesting a shot or missing a defensive assignment. So I learned my first five games that this young dude was something else."
Moments like those built the level of respect Perkins had for Westbrook. So when a player like Kobe Bryant said Westbrook had the patented "Mamba mentality," it solidified what Perkins already thought about the young point guard.
"We had just finished playing the Lakers in a playoff series and Kobe Bryant came out and said, 'They have a special one over there in Russell Westbrook and he has that Mamba mentality,'" Perkins said. "Kobe didn't bless a lot of people and for him to say that about Russell Westbrook, it just speaks volumes."
Now with the Wizards, Westbrook continues to play with the same infectious energy every single game. A quad injury kept him from impacting the game the way he's used to, but over the last few months, he's been Washington's best player as they push toward the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tune in to NBC Sports Washington on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for Kendrick Perkins' full interview on Wizards Pregame Live