Why Is Russell Westbrook Wearing No. 4 Instead of No. 0 in Washington?

How quickly times have changed for Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards.

At this time two years ago, Westbrook was still starring at point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Washington didn’t have the constant success the Thunder regularly had, but the Wizards at least had All-Star point guard John Wall.

Now, Wall will team up with James Harden in Houston and Westbrook, who spent last season with the Rockets, is headed to Washington. Rather than wearing his customary No. 0, Westbrook will instead wear No. 4.

Russell Westbrook is headed to Washington

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As time progresses and athletes get older, they’re bound to wind up with teams that people would never have expected.

NFL fans need to look no further than Tom Brady, who joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year after 20 seasons in New England. Peyton Manning closed his career with the Denver Broncos, Jerry Rice suited up for the Seahawks, and Brett Favre wouldn’t stop retiring so he could play for the Jets and Vikings.

Meanwhile, in the NBA … the less said about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s time in Brooklyn, the better.

This is the exact situation that Russell Westbrook and John Wall each face. Westbrook spent a decade-plus in Oklahoma City, teaming up with Kevin Durant and trying to create a Western Conference powerhouse.

Oklahoma City traded Westbrook to Houston in a massive deal in July 2019. Westbrook spent a year in Houston before the Rockets traded him to Washington for Wall and a lottery-protected first-round pick.

Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, played his entire career in Washington. He has not played since Dec. 26, 2018, because of injuries to his heel and left Achilles tendon.

Westbrook is an NBA legend

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No matter where he has played, Russell Westbrook has left a sizable impact on modern NBA history.

Basketball fans can debate on their own time if Westbrook is a stat-padder. However, it is hard to deny that he is headed for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when he hangs up his cleats.

Westbrook averaged 23.2 points on 43.7% shooting from the field — and 30.5% from three-point range — to go with 8.3 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per night. A nine-time All-Star, Westbrook averaged a triple-double in three consecutive seasons and won the NBA MVP Award in 2017.

Westbrook has averaged 24.8 points, seven rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.8 steals per night in 106 career postseason games.

Why is Russell Westbook wearing No. 4 in Washington?

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Russell Westbrook has always worn No. 0 at the college and professional level.

That will change this year. Westbrook will instead wear No. 4 with the Washington Wizards, a marked departure from his trademark No. 0.

There are two specific reasons for the number change. ESPN reported that No. 4 has always been Westbrook’s preferred number — he wore it in high school — but he’s never been able to wear it in the NBA because teammates already had the number.

The second reason is slightly more interesting. Longtime Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas told Ben Mehić, a Wizards reporter, that the team “effectively” retired No. 0, which Arenas wore in his time with the team.

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