It’s been a big week for Russell Westbrook. He signed an extension with the Thunder to remain in Oklahoma City through at least 2018. And he also received the highest praise possible from Michael Jordan: a comparison to himself. Jordan said recently in a film shown at a Nike event that Westbrook reminds him of his younger self.
Then they cut back to Jordan. “Thirty years ago, that’s me,” he said of Westbrook. “The attitude, trying to prove myself, showing so much passion for the game of basketball. You see it in his play. You can tell he loves the game, he plays with energy and flair.”
Now that Kobe Bryant is retired, Westbrook is probably the closest thing in the NBA in terms of attitude and competitiveness. Westbrook, understandably, was honored by the comparison:
“That’s crazy,” he told us during his interview. “I really don’t know what to say. To have the best player who ever played the game to say that about you as a player and as a person is something that is going to keep me striving.”
There was a little bit of business involved in the comparison — Westbrook is, after all, a Jordan Brand endorser with his own shoe line. But the comparison is not unfounded at all. Westbrook is certainly not as good as Jordan, but he plays like him and carries himself like him.