Before tearing his meniscus in last season’s playoffs, Russell Westbrook had played every game in his five seasons. That gave him the longest active games-played streak in the NBA until he missed the Thunder’s season opener this season.
Streaks like that combine many factors including health, luck and attitude. The ship has sailed on Westbrook’s health, but I doubt his attitude has changed. He’s still the same competitor who has shown he’ll find his way onto the court as often as possible.
And Scott Brooks is still the coach who has repeatedly said he wouldn’t rest players out of respect for the game, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman.
Yet, Westbrook sat out Oklahoma City’s win over the Jazz on Sunday, a game that was both followed and preceded by two off days, even though he could play.
Westbrook, via Mayberry:
“It’s planned throughout the season,” Westbrook said. “It’s 82 games of nonstop, and right now is the best time for me to take a break regardless of who we were playing. But on the schedule, we sit down and look at the schedule each month and try to find the best way to get me recovered.”
Asked if he agreed with the philosophy, Westbrook said “Yeah, I’m cool with it.”
“I don’t know if it’s going to happen every time. But I just know that was the best thing for right now,” he said.
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Westbrook is just 25, but the Thunder have big aspirations. They’ll need him deep into the playoffs, not for a regular-season game against the Western Conference’s worst team.
If the team’s doctors believe Westbrook taking the occasional day off is best for his long-term health, this is an easy call. Credit Westbrook and Brooks for getting over their reservations to allow this to happen.