Russell Westbrook Received Marvelous Praise From the Late Great Kobe Bryant That He Will Likely Cherish Forever: ‘He’s Probably the Most Athletic Player I’ve Ever Played Against’
Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in NBA history. Despite being erratic and inefficient on the offensive end, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar has carved out an incredible basketball résumé. He’s a nine-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, one-time MVP, and the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles.
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is one of the handful of NBA icons who is a big fan of Westbrook. The six-time champion appreciates the fire and passion the point guard plays with since he played the same way. Jordan and Westbrook have developed a solid relationship since the latter entered the NBA. MJ presented Russ into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2016, and Westbrook is part of the Jordan Brand.
Jordan isn’t the only Hall of Famer who loves Westbrook. In fact, the late great Kobe Bryant once showered the 2016-17 MVP with marvelous praise that he will likely cherish forever.
Kobe Bryant on Russell Westbrook: “He’s probably the most athletic player I’ve ever played against”
In 2016, Bryant said Westbrook is probably the most athletic player he’s played against. It was certainly a noteworthy comment since the five-time champion played against some spectacular athletes during his career.
“He’s probably the most athletic player I’ve ever played against,” Bryant said about Westbrook. “He plays the game with such energy, such an aggressiveness. He’s not out there trying to be cute with the basketball. He’s not out there trying to make friends. He plays hard every time down. It takes a lot of energy to be able to do that.”
Westbrook and Bryant faced each other 22 times before the latter retired in 2016. Both stars put up stellar numbers, but the Brodie came out on top more often.
Russell Westbrook went 12-10 against Kobe Bryant
Westbrook went 12-10 against Bryant. The two-time All-Star Game MVP averaged 22.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists versus the Black Mamba, who put up 23.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. Westbrook was fortunate to have Kevin Durant as his teammate when the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Lakers.
Westbrook and Durant lost to Bryant in the first round of the 2010 playoffs in six games. However, they got their revenge in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals by eliminating the Lakers in five games. The Thunder made it all the way to the NBA Finals that year, but they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games.
Since he was born and raised in Long Beach, California, Westbrook grew up a huge Bryant and Lakers fan. The All-NBA guard is living out a childhood dream playing for the Lakers and will do everything in his power to honor Bryant every time he steps on the hardwood.
Russ on playing for Bean
At Lakers media day in September, Westbrook said every time he puts on the Laker uniform, he’s going to play for Bryant and honor his storied legacy. Before his untimely death, Bryant and Westbrook talked about the latter possibly coming home and playing for the Lakers.
“You come in here, and you see, you know, you look up at the practice facility, you see 8 and 24, and I know he’s looking down and making sure that I need to do what I need to do,” Westbrook said. “That’s the only thing I can think about is knowing putting this uniform on, understanding the impact that I can have on being home and being a Laker and creating a legacy, not just for myself, but for my kids, for the community of Los Angeles, for the people here and imma make sure I just do my part and going out and playing for him and through him as I compete in this uniform.”
Bryant won five titles with the Lakers and is the franchise leader in points. It would be special if Westbrook won his first championship at home and with the team Bryant played for. Only time will tell if the future Hall of Famer can accomplish his goal.