It’s time: Westbrook looks to fill void after Durant’s exit

The Associated Press - October 26, 2016 10:28 am

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts as he is guarded by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals in Oakland, Calif., There were few indications before August that Russell Westbrook would be so willing and able to be the hero downtrodden Thunder fans needed. Now that he has answered the call, it’s time to deliver. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – There were few indications before August that Russell Westbrook would be so willing to be the hero downtrodden Thunder fans needed.

For years, the sometimes combustible Westbrook toiled in Kevin Durant’s shadow. He often was viewed as the talented, selfish player who was as likely to get in Durant’s way as he was to make a winning play. His flashy style seemed at odds with small-market Oklahoma City so when Durant, who seemingly was a better fit in OKC, left for rival Golden State, fear that Westbrook would bolt for a larger market increased.

He didn’t. He chose to re-sign with the Thunder and now that he has answered the call, it’s time to deliver.

“We know a few things about Russell at this point,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “He’s going to bring his lunch pail every day. He’s going to compete. He’s going to inspire. He’s going to show great conviction and courage to his teammates, to the city, to the organization. And from there, we have to figure out how that comes together.”

That trek begins Wednesday in Philadelphia when Oklahoma City officially tips off the post-Durant era in its season opener against the 76ers.

 

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