Russell Westbrook ready to play for Thunder
Russell Westbrook apparently is a quick healer.
The All-Star point guard, sidelined for the past six months with
a knee injury, was set to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder
lineup for Sunday night’s home game against the Phoenix Suns, weeks
earlier than expected. Westbrook was slated to start instead of
easing back into action.
”Rehab is a tough process,” Westbrook said. ”I’m going to
continue to rehab throughout the season, before the game, whatever
I need to do to stay healthy throughout the year. It’s a tough
process, but I’m thankful for . everybody that supported me
throughout the process.
”I’m just happy to be back on the floor.”
Before Sunday, Westbrook hadn’t played since tearing the lateral
meniscus in his right knee during the second game of the NBA
playoffs last April. The injury occurred when Houston Rockets guard
Patrick Beverley banged knees with him while going for a steal
after Westbrook had stopped to call a timeout.
Westbrook underwent an initial surgery for the injury on April
27. He underwent another surgery on Oct. 1 to remove a loose stitch
from the first procedure. At the time, the Thunder said he would
miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season. Under that
timetable, Westbrook could have been out for as many as 22
Instead, he missed only two games – a win at Utah on Wednesday
and a loss at Minnesota on Friday. Westbrook said he never expected
to be out four to six weeks.
”I don’t know who made that up in the first place,” he said.
”I was never on that timeline at all. I was just taking it day by
day and going one day at a time until I was ready to play.”
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti called Westbrook’s
rehabilitation process ”methodical” and said it ”has been
instrumental in getting Russell to this point.” Presti said the
process included physical and medical benchmarks, the final one
being ”unrestricted basketball activity.”
Presti said the team, doctors, Westbrook’s representatives and
Westbrook all agreed ”that returning to play was the correct next
step.” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the team found out late
Saturday that Westbrook would be able to play Sunday.
Asked if he thought he might be a bit rusty after such a long
layoff, Westbrook replied, ”I expect to win. I just expect to go
out there and play hard, have fun with my teammates and try to
”It’s going to be a little different, to get back in the groove
of things, find a rhythm, whatever it may be. But we’ll take it day
by day and try to get it together.”