Monday Bolts: 10.2.17

Royce Young on Russell Westbrook’s contract extension: “Russell Westbrook, known for his brevity, didn’t take long to explain on Sunday why he decided to sign an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder that keeps him with the franchise through 2022-23. “I like where I’m at,” Westbrook said. The Thunder held an outdoor ceremony prior to an intrasquad scrimmage at a local high school as thousands of fans gathered to celebrate Westbrook’s signing with chants of “MVP” and “loyalty” ringing out.”

How Westbrook became the $205 million face of Oklahoma: “The talk of loyalty and love for OKC and the Thunder wasn’t bluster. It was Westbrook effectively telling everyone, even if they weren’t listening — I’m not going anywhere. Loyalty is a two-way street, and a complicated one in professional sports. But as much as Westbrook has had the Thunder’s back, they’ve had his. They’ve stood rigid in defending him against all critics, and supported him at every turn. It has not been a relationship of convenience but mutual respect.”

Paul George says Westbrook’s extension will “absolutely” factor into his own future: “It all adds up to a message by the Thunder — we want to win, and we will take care of our players — that George has heard loud and clear before playing his first game in an Oklahoma City uniform. “We’ve been on an unbelievable start right now, and for him to be committed here, it says a lot,” he told the media on Saturday. “Not only in us pairing together, but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot. And I’m one person that’s enjoying it here, so I think when (free agency) comes, the decision will be easier to make for myself.

Westbrook reflects on his extension, his knee, and more: “We have a great relationship, myself and Sam, and we talk about many different things,” Westbrook said. “We have a good relationship where we don’t have to make sure everybody knows exactly the time and date when I told him, but all that matters is we’re on the same page about everything.”

Jon Hamm discusses Westbrook’s ultimate show of loyalty to OKC: “There is nowhere else I’d rather be than Oklahoma City. You guys have basically raised me,” Westbrook said when he signed a three-year, $85 million extension last August. He added that loyalty was “something he stood by.” It’s understandable if fans disregarded such words as hollow following the departure of Kevin Durant to Golden State. There’s no reason for skepticism anymore. In Westbrook, the Thunder have found their Tim Duncan. Their Dirk Nowitzki. Their Kobe Bryant. Their—dare I say—Nick Collison. They have a player who remained committed to the city and the organization through thick and thin, through success and failure.”

Berry Tramel on Russ doing exactly what he said he’d do: “The entire state had been holding its breath since July 1, when Westbrook was eligible to sign the five-year extension. Friday was not a day of celebration. Friday was a day to exhale. A people burned by the departure of Kevin Durant embraced Westbrook with a fervor unseen even for Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers. The thought that Westbrook could bolt on the same transporter Durant chose terrified Oklahomans, a scare we could have avoided if only we had believed Westbrook. He kept telling us, Oklahoma is where he wanted to be. That he was focusing on family and new fatherhood this summer, and that contract time would come. But we’re not quite as naive as we once were. Fool us once…”

Rob Mahoney (SI) on Westbrook reframing the Thunder season with a stroke of his pen: “There can be no guarantee of where either George or Anthony will play next season. Oklahoma City, however, can feel safer in that fact after locking in Westbrook. Superstar security might mean more to the Thunder than any other franchise. They know first-hand the cost of seeing an MVP talent walk away, and in a post-Durant era, both Westbrook and the Thunder have staked their identity to it. This is a defiant group.”

Kevin O’Connor (The Ringer) explores the possibility of Westbrook getting even better: “Westbrook is one of the NBA’s most devastating forces with the ball in his hands, both in the pick-and-roll and in isolation. But with more talented teammates, Westbrook’s usage can be diversified by putting him in spots where he doesn’t need to self-manufacture buckets.”

Full highlights from yesterday’s Blue & White Scrimmage below. You can read our recap here.