January 9, 2020 will be a memorable night in the NBA. Russell Westbrook returns to Oklahoma City to play his former team. Not only that, he returns to the city that shaped him into the eight-time all-star, and future hall of famer that he is today.
It’s looking to be a pretty emotional night for Westbrook and OKC. Expect Westbrook to get a tribute video, and ruckus cheers from all of the fans. Heck, even Paul George, the man that was here for only two seasons, got a standing ovation from the Thunder crowd. It’s hard to imagine how crazy Westbrook’s reception will be.
When Westbrook and George were traded, many fans didn’t know what was next for the Thunder. I think most fans were in shock. Some fans heard they were getting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and probably thought, “Who the hell is this guy?” Then they heard that Chris Paul was coming to OKC, and thought, “He is old and getting paid too much.”
Fast forward six months, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like a future superstar in this league, Chris Paul is playing his best basketball in years, and the Thunder have the best record in the Western Conference since Thanksgiving. Three things I can guarantee most Thunder fans didn’t expect to happen before the season started.
It was time to move on from Russell Westbrook. The trade was great for both Westbrook and the Thunder. He went to try to compete for a championship with James Harden, and we got Chris Paul (the perfect fit and mentor for this Thunder team), along with 1st-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. Not only that, we now have our future franchise player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and FIFTEEN first-round picks in the next 7 drafts. The future is bright in OKC.
In a season that most people thought would be a rebuilding year, the Thunder seem primed for a playoff spot with this current roster, led by Paul and SGA.
I will forever love Westbrook for all that he has done for OKC. The Finals berth, the two Western Conference Finals appearances, all of the triple-doubles, the MVP season, and even sticking with us when Kevin Durant bailed.
However, there is a new sheriff in town.