Michael Jordan and Russell Westbrook have a close relationship. The Washington Wizards superstar is part of the Jordan brand and has helped the Chicago Bulls legend increase the popularity of his shoe empire.
Many people didn’t know how close Jordan and Westbrook were until the former UCLA Bruin was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and MJ presented him in 2016. Not only did Jordan give a great speech about Westbrook, but he also destroyed Kevin Durant in a room full of Oklahoma City Thunder fans.
Michael Jordan loves Russell Westbrook
Jordan is a huge fan of Westbrook. The six-time champion has said several times that the 2016-17 MVP plays with the fire and passion he played with during his career.
Westbrook is one of the most polarizing players in NBA history due to his erratic play and unwillingness to be friendly with the media during his time with the Thunder. However, no one can question his dedication to the game of basketball and commitment to be great, two traits Jordan admires about the explosive point guard.
When Jordan was asked to present Westbrook into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2016, he didn’t hesitate since he’s good friends with Thunder governor Clayton Bennett and has a lot of respect for Russ. Just like in his Hall of Fame speech in 2009, Jordan was funny, professional, and petty during his Westbrook speech.
Michael Jordan destroyed Kevin Durant while praising Russell Westbrook
In the summer of 2016, Durant left the Thunder in free agency to sign with the Golden State Warriors. It was a heartbreaking moment for OKC fans who thought KD would retire with the Thunder.
After Durant signed with the Warriors, many people thought Westbrook would request a trade from the Thunder. However, he signed a contract extension, which Jordan appreciated.
While praising Westbrook during his speech, Jordan took a jab at Durant, and the entire room in Oklahoma loved it.
“I think another thing that you guys should be proud about is a sense of loyalty that this kid has shown to the state of Oklahoma,” Jordan said. “He could have easily come to Charlotte, but he decided to stay here in Oklahoma. I’m not here to try and bash anyone that’s not here. Everybody has a choice. I’m not saying that you don’t have a choice. Everybody has a choice, and when I saw that he chose to stay here in Oklahoma, I was so proud. You guys have a very, very special kid.”
Durant was loved in Oklahoma during his years with the Thunder. However, he became a villain when he signed with the Warriors, and Westbrook turned into a hero since he stayed with OKC.
Jordan’s diss toward Durant was just what Thunder fans needed in 2016. They watched arguably the greatest basketball player of all time subtly annihilate the player who broke their heart and commend their star in Westbrook.
Next stop for Russ is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
He may not win a title, but Westbrook will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer one day and join Jordan in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The nine-time All-Star is the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles and has averaged a triple-double four times.
With the Thunder, Houston Rockets, and Wizards, Westbrook has compiled averages of 23.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 8.5 assists. Along with his 2016-17 MVP Award, he’s a two-time scoring champion and has won the All-Star Game MVP twice.
Westbrook’s NBA résumé is impressive, but it doesn’t touch Jordan’s, who won five MVPs, 10 scoring titles, one Defensive Player of the Year, six championships, and six Finals MVPs. He’s also the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game and PER.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.