HOUSTON — Russell Westbrook's season officially came to an abrupt end on Saturday morning, but hope still remains for a long and productive NBA career from the Thunder's All-Star point guard.
Westbrook underwent successful surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. The operation took place at the Stedman Clinic in Vail, Colo., with Thunder medical personnel present.
“The results of the surgery itself were the best-case scenario for Russ as both a player and as a person,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti explained, “because the meniscus itself was able to be repaired and not simply removed. By being repaired, it's able to remain fully intact, which is the best possible situation.”
The procedure means Westbrook will miss the remainder of this year's playoffs and faces several weeks of rehabilitation.
Westbrook's streak of 439 consecutive games in the regular season and postseason — the league's longest active streak — ended Saturday night when he missed Game 3 of his team's opening-round series against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
He had not missed a game since joining the NBA five years ago, nor had Westbrook missed a game his two seasons at UCLA and reportedly in his entire career at Leuzinger High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Lawndale, Calif.
Westbrook tore his meniscus midway through the second quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena when his right knee collided with the left side of Houston guard Patrick Beverley's hip as Westbrook was calling for a timeout.
Angry and hobbled, the determined Westbrook remained in the game, scored 20 points thereafter and played all 24 minutes of the second half in a 105-102 victory that gave OKC a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
Team doctors initially diagnosed Westbrook with a bruised knee, but it became evident Friday morning the injury was more serious, and tests detected the meniscus damage.
“As far as the time frame for him to return to the floor, he's actually starting his rehabilitation (Saturday),” Presti said in a teleconference call from Vail. “As we get deeper into the rehab process, we'll be able to provide a more accurate timetable as to when it is he'll be back on the floor. We're very confident in Russell's ability to do well in this rehab and we're very confident in our group, and we know he'll be back on the floor relatively soon.”