Russell Westbrook is out with a strained quadriceps muscle, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking it easy on the sidelines.
In the first two games of the Rockets-Thunder series, which the Rockets lead 2-0, Westbrook has been active in the Rockets’ bench area not only cheering on his teammates, but berating the referees, talking to coaches about strategy and giving his teammates pointers during timeouts.
Duing Thursday’s Game 2, which the Rockets won 111-98, he did it all in a sleeveless Iron Maiden T-shirt and a cap from Honor The Gift clothing brand, of which he is the creative director. He also was wearing Nike’s Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky sneakers, which sell for about $1,500 on StockX.
During Tuesday’s game, ESPN analyst Mark Jackson had high praise for Westbrook.
“Russell Westbrook, engaged in the basketball game,” Jackson said during a timeout. “Doing a lot of talking to everybody, to the referees, talking about what he sees, describing advantages for his basketball team. Talking to his coaching staff. ‘What I see,’ how we can be better, what we can do offensively and defensively, adjustments we need to make and then holding guys accountable. Look at their eyes, paying attention to him. I want greatness not just to sit and chill, I want them to have dialogue with everybody and be engaged. That’s outstanding leadership by Westbrook.”
Westbrook’s energy seemed to be contagious, even rubbing off on James Harden, who usually is stoic on the bench, but was visibly fired up as the Rockets made a run early in the fourth quarter while he watched from the sidelines.
There’s no timetable for Westbrook’s return and he hasn’t been cleared to work on the court during practice.