Russell Westbrook is out for an indefinite period of time with a torn meniscus and will have surgery soon.
Westbrook injured it in Game 2 against the Rockets when he collided with Patrick Beverley. Comments from Sam Presti, Scott Brooks and Kevin Durant from today’s availability after the jump.
Opening comments: “Obviously disappointing news this morning. Russell suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. We’re certainly disappointed for him. The health of our players id always first and foremost, there’s nothing more important than that. Fortunately this is some thing that with a procedure he’ll be able to return to the court better than ever. We’re confident in that. As he is disappointed, so is our team. Our team is disappointed in Russell. We know what kid of competitor he is, how much he wants to be out there but it’s a medical decision and our team as a whole, we’ve got a resilient group of guys. A lot of character within that locker room and a group that enjoys playing together and has been through some adversaries over the last several years that they’ve been together so we’d expect them to adjust, come together and have different guys step in and play well collectively. Clearly our thoughts are really with Russell and getting him healthy and back on the floor.”
On if continuing to play had any impact on it: “At the time the play occurred in the second quarter he was in constant communication with the trainers and honestly the action itself was consistent with a bone bruise and was fine to play. He felt comfortable. Obviously, over the last couple days as we started to do more investigation based on his symptoms and things he was communicating we consulted several people outside the organization as well to get a much information as possible and ultimately this morning it became apparent that he was showing the symptoms that match up with images that we got.”
His thoughts when he found out about it: “I have a lot of respect for Russell. He gives everything he has for the team and like all of our players feel the same way. We love Russell Westbrook. We love what he’s about. We love the determination and the drive that he has had ever since we’ve drafted him. We all understand as being in this business that injuries do happen. It’s unfortunate that it happened. But as a group I have confidence in the guys. I have utmost respect for all the guys’ preparation. The reason why we’re in this position is because of the work that they’ve all put in. I’m confident in the group that we have. I believe in our guys, I’m excited and going to embrace the challenge going down to Houston and trying to take care of business.”
On moving forward: “I talked to the guys. We found out this morning and they all felt the same way. We all have a lot of respect for what Russell brings to our team. He’s a fierce competitor. He competes on every possession. Those are the guys that you want all your players to be around and your younger players to look up to and he’s been a great role model for our team and our organization and our city that he just competes every day for the team.
On if Jackson starts: “We have options, obviously. He’s a very viable option that I have a lot of confidence in. He’s been playing great basketball when we inserted him into that backup position. We don’t have to make that decision until tomorrow night but he’s definitely been getting a lot of opportunities to continue to develop and improve the way he has and I have confidence in him. I thought his minutes the last two games were really good and solid. The guys believe in what he does.”
On Westbrook being indestructible: “I had an idea that it might be coming. He’s been a pillar to what we are about as an organization. You come in, you do your job every single day and you live with the results because you should be happy with all the work you put in. There’s nothing else you can do and that’s been his mentality since the day we drafted him. It’s unfortunate that it happened. But it is part of sports. We’re not the only team that has to deal with injuries. When you step on the floor that’s something that can possibly happen. But we have to regroup and quickly and our guys have. We had a pretty good practice today going in to tomorrow night’s game I’m confident in the group that we have. I believe in our group, I believe in the character of the men that we have on our team.”
On depth: “Everybody’s going to have to step up. That’s the thing, not one person whoever I start, that’s going to be that person to play and be Russell Westbrook. Our team is to continue to build on all the habits that we worked on and force everything that we have on the court every possession, mentality. That’s what we talked about. It doesn’t matter who we throw on there and that’s why we have a team. We’re a 15 man team and we still are, even with Russell being hurt. We’re still a 15 man team. Everybody believes in each other and that’s what you have to do. You don’t win in this league with one player. You don’t win with five or six players. You win it with your team. We talked about that and we believe in the things that we talk about. We don’t just throw it up because it looks pretty cool on a tshirt or a billboard. We believe in each other, we believe in what we do and we take pride in it and we’re proud about what we do.”
On what he’d tell Thunder fans: “Keep being here for us. It’s one of the things that we believe in. We believe in our community. We strive to be great role models on and off the court and everything that they’ve done in the last five years, it just makes us proud. We are proud to play here, we are proud to live here and we have an opportunity to continue to make our fan base proud of what we do and there’s no question it’s challenging loosing a player but it’s still, we have enough guys that we can still manage and put ourselves in a position to win and that’s all you want to do as a team is put yourself in a position to win. And we have high character guys that believe in each other.”
On when he found out: “This morning. I pictured him being ready to play. Coming to practice, being ready to practice but that’s how it’s gotta work sometimes. Of course it’s not what we wanted but it’s something that we got to have faith in and trust in that everything is going to work out. And Russell is a guy that knows that. And we’re going to be behind him, supporting him and we want him to get healthy.”
On his initial thoughts: “It’s unfortunate for a guy who loves to play the game so much. Dedicated and committed to his team. Gives his all every second he’s on the floor. A lot of people may not like what he brings to our team but inside we love what he does. You know he’s a different player, a different person you know, but we love what he brings and it’s unfortunate that he can’t compete at the highest level of basketball which is the playoffs. We just praying for him and hopefully he comes back. Has a full recovery, has a speedy recovery. And we just got to step up in his absence.”
On if Russ can return this postseason: “We hope so. Our first thing is to make sure he gets healthy, gets that knee back right. The basketball part, we not trying to rush him or bring him back ahead of schedule, we want to make sure he’s healthy and his knee is right. That’s our only concern with it right now. As players we have to come together as a team and worry about the basketball. All he has to worry about is him getting healthy.”
On Westbrook’s love to compete: “We were all shocked because we thought with him playing in the second half we thought he’d be all right. We’re his teammates, we’re his brothers, we just want to support him, keep his spirits up because you know, Russ is an emotional guy and he want to play so bad, he wants to be on the team. He want to be on the floor with his team so we got to make sure his spirits is high so we’ll see what happens.”
On the “next man up” mentality: “We got good depth on our team. Reggie Jackson is ready for the moment. He’s been working his tail off ever since he got here. So he’s ready for this and we just got to rally behind him and give him confidence. He’s going to make mistakes just like everybody else but we just got to keep encouraging him.”
On how Westbrook never misses a game: “Like I said, he wants to play. This is the playoffs and you don’t want to miss the playoffs no matter what it is. Russ is the ultimate competitor and like I said, the only thing I worry about is him getting healthy. You know the basketball part, people put a lot of emphasis on it but his health is more important to me so him coming back earlier just to help us out in the playoffs if it’s not a good idea, he shouldn’t do it. Like I said, we all got to step up and play a bigger part because he’s a huge part to our team. He’s a huge part. I know I have to do a better job of being a better leader on the floor. Maybe doing some of the stuff that he was doing for us. It’s going to be a tough task but we’re all looking forward to it.”
On being more aggressive now: “You gotta stay together and stay composed and poised. I think that’s where I come in. Offensively, defensively, I just got to give it all for our team like I’ve been doing. Going out there and playing my hardest and leaving it all out there on the floor. We’re confident. It’s tough to deal with today, you know, having your teammate the day before the game say he’s going to miss the next few. So we just got to rally behind each other and play Thunder basketball and if we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Audio via Randy Renner and big ups to Mrs. Daily Thunder for helping with the transcription