Russell Westbrook’s stint in Washington was, from start to finish, a unique one. But he still made his mark on the franchise in just 65 games.
Though he played just one of his 14 seasons as a Wizard, he received a very warm welcome from the fans, especially during and after a tribute video played on the jumbotron in the first quarter.
In a 127-119 Wizards win, Westbrook scored 22 points with eight assists and 10 rebounds.
“I’m very appreciative of just the overall organization, the fans,” Westbrook said postgame. “They welcomed me and my family with open arms since day one when I got here. A lot of people last year even counted us out as a team and a lot of guys are still here, people on the coaching staff as well, so it was good to see a lot of those guys. Happy to be a part of an organization that believed in the things I’m able to do. I was happy to be a part of it.”
In his stint in D.C., Westbrook made a big impact on the team and some of its younger players, particularly Deni Avdija. And though his time in Washington lasted for just a few months, Westbrook made history as a Wizard.
Last May, he became the NBA's all-time leader in career triple-doubles as his play down the stretch helped lift the Wizards into the playoffs.
“That’s one of the biggest competitors I’ve ever been around,” Deni Avdija said on NBC Sports Washington’s postgame show. “In the end of the game, he approached me and told me, ‘Hey, Deni, I’m going to kill you if you don’t play like that every game. I know what you’re capable of.’ He was really a big mentor for me in my first year and I learned a lot from him for sure.”
Against the Lakers, and his former teammate in Westbrook, Avdija scored 17 points and added four rebounds and four assists.
Westbrook was traded in a massive deal ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft that netted the Wizards a host of players, including Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and sent Westbrook to Los Angeles.
Despite the loss, there were positive signs about Westbrook’s game and what he brought to the table against his former team.
“He played great,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Just shooting the ball with confidence, made some nice moves in the post, had a good floor game in terms of creating for others and whatnot. I couldn’t be happier with how he played tonight.”