Nobody is playing harder, nobody brings a more fierce game to the arena every night than angry Russell Westbrook. In the wake of Kevin Durant‘s exit, stage left, Westbrook has been unleashed — 31.8 points, 9.8 assists, and 9.5 rebounds a game. He’s playing at an MVP level, carrying the Thunder to a 7-5 record on the back of a good defense and him as the offense.
Michael Jordan likes what he sees — and what he sees is a little of himself.
Jordan introduced Westbrook when the latter was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame this week, and the GOAT had some serious praise for Westbrook (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie):
“I am truly a fan of his. If you can ever say, being that we’re so many years apart, that when I watch him play, I see a lot of resemblance of his passion for the game of basketball [to] the way I played the game of basketball…
But the thing about him that very few basketball players have is his passion for the game of basketball. Every time I played the game of basketball, when I stepped onto that floor, I always felt like there was someone there that never saw me play the game of basketball, and that motivated me every single night. This kid has the same passion, and you can’t get that.”
Jordan said he tried to move up in the 2008 draft because he wanted Westbrook, but Presti would have no part of it (Charlotte ended up taking D.J. Augustin ninth, doing so in front of Brook Lopez, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, and others).
Comparing someone to himself is the highest praise from Jordan, and only a few (Kobe Bryant most recently) have gotten that. It’s fitting for Westbrook, because nobody plays with a bigger chip on their shoulder than Westbrook in today’s game, and that’s what he most has in common with MJ.
Westbrook, of course, wasn’t about to go down that road and said Jordan was the greatest ever.
More impressively, Westbrook talked about bigger issues in his acceptance speech.