Here’s the transcript of Russell Westbrook’s pregame interview in which he discusses his return to the Thunder’s lineup.
Q: You get to play basketball again. Tell us when you found out and what it’s been like.
A: Uh, I mean, yesterday after practice was a turning point for me. I’m just happy to be back on the floor.
Will you talk about just the expectations for yourself tonight? Do you expect there to be any rust?
Uh, I expect to win. I just expect to go out there and play hard; fight for my teammates and try to win.
What has the team’s response been?
Just normal. Try to keep it as normal as possible. Just stay upbeat and try to be ready to play.
Are you nervous, anxious? How do you feel?
I feel excited. After being off the floor for seven to eight months, I mean, I’m very excited to be back on the floor, and hopefully we can get a win.
Did Friday’s game speed up the process a little bit?
No. Wasn’t too much that could speed up the process with me.
Do you expect somewhat of an adjustment period for everybody as roles get defined, or is the continuity that you guys have (intact)?
Not sure. I think it’s going to be a little different to get back in the groove of things, find a rhythm, whatever it may be. But we’re going to take it day by day and try to get it together.
How do you feel like you might be a better player coming back than you were before?
Just watching, man. I’ve seen a lot of things just watching the game from a different point of view; learning different things, learning how guys communicate and just learning the game a lot better.
Reggie (Jackson) said about a week ago it looked like you were jumping just as high and dunking just as well and those kinds of things.
Yeah, yeah. I was jumping a little bit (laughs). Just a little bit.
Do you feel as explosive as you did?
Yeah. I feel great. I feel I’m in a good spot. I’m happy and blessed to be able to be able to play basketball again and go on the floor and fight for my teammates. First, I want to thank all the fans and all my family and friends and maybe some of you guys for your support throughout this period. It’s been a tough one, but I’m happy to be back.
While you’ve been out, what’s the thing you missed most about playing?
Just the pregame. Just coming in eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Just stuff like that you miss as a player just coming in and getting ready for the game.
Do you think the experience guys like Reggie and Serge (Ibaka) and those guys have had, kind of having to step up a little bit, will help you guys as a team?
I think so. Down the road. I think it’s early in the year now. Everybody’s finding their groove and finding their place and their role on this team. And I think it will help down the road.
When did you know or at least have an idea that the four-to-six week timeline was not going to be needed.
I don’t know who made that up in the first place (laughs). So I never was on that timeline at all. I was just taking it day by day and going one day at a time until I was ready to play.
Will you still be turbo Russ?
Will I be turbo Russ? Of course.
Was there ever a point where you thought, ‘Man, it’ll be really cool for me to come back for the home opener?’ Was that a goal?
No. I mean, the goal was just to slow play it. I’ve been slow playing it. I wanted to play the first game. I just wasn’t ready yet. I had to get a few more practices underneath my belt and some more rhythm and try to find a way to get back on the floor.
How much did all the work that you did this summer to get into shape and get in condition help you to get to this point?
A lot, man. I mean, rehab is a tough process. I’m going to continue to rehab throughout the season before the game; whatever I need to do to stay healthy throughout the year. It’s a tough process, but, like I said again, I’m thankful for all my fans and family and everybody that supported me throughout the process.
There’s been a lot of flattering remarks said about you in the last seven, eight months. Does one stand out?
Oh man, I can’t even…I mean, I don’t know if I went a day without somebody asking about me or checking on me. I’m very, very thankful of that. I just, like I said, want to say thank you to everybody for their support, and I’m happy to be back on the floor.