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Russell Westbrook said he is ready to work with guard James Harden to bring a championship to Houston.
Meeting the Texas media for the first time since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded him to the Rockets two weeks ago, Westbrook talked about starting his career fresh with an old pal.
“We’ve been friends for many, many years,” Westbrook, 30, said of Harden. “Since I was 10, actually. So we’ve played with each other in Oklahoma City, and to be able to win something, you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice some parts of your game and we both understand that.”
The two played together, along with Kevin Durant, in Oklahoma City for three seasons. Harden was traded to the Rockets before the 2012-13 season after being named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
“We both understand that we have one common goal and that’s to win a championship. We understand what we have to do. I’m not worried about it and I know James isn’t worried about it. I can play off the ball; I don’t have to touch the ball to impact the game. That’s the best way for me to come in and impact this team. I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance to win.”
Westbrook, the 2016-17 league MVP and an eight-time All-Star, said he has no doubts he’ll make a successful transition from Oklahoma City, where he spent 11 seasons.
“I’ll fit right in, personally,” Westbrook said. “Floor spread, it gives me the opportunity to attack, penetrate, kick. Defensively, it’ll give me an opportunity to switch and guard and rebound at a high level. Push the break, get us out on the break. A lot of different things.”
Still, he said he’ll miss Oklahoma City, the only NBA home he’s known.
“It’s tough. It’s something that will stay with me the rest of my life. Because I basically grew up there, in Oklahoma City,” Westbrook said. “Eighteen years old in Oklahoma City and the people, the organization, never done me wrong. They always stood up for me and my family — always had my back — and I’m very, very grateful and I don’t take that for granted.”
Westbrook played in 821 career games (804 starts) with the Thunder, averaging 23 points, 8.4 assists and 7 rebounds per game. He averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons.
–Field Level Media