Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook held a press conference Thursday morning, speaking for the first time about his season-ending knee injury and what life has been like for him and the Thunder in the aftermath of his first major injury.
Here is a transcript of Westbrook's press conference.
Did you know immediately something was wrong?
Kind of. Kind of sort of. Not a hundred percent, but it definitely felt a little different than usual. But at the same time I was still trying to help my team win the game and go out there and compete.
What were the next 24-48 hours were like?
It was stressful. Definitely after the game my knee was hurting. When I got home it was hurting. The morning after it was hurting. Getting an MRI is always scary because it's always something. I feel like every time somebody gets an MRI they always come back with some bad news. So it was stressful, and once I got the MRI then things got real. I had to figure out what I needed to do.
How difficult was it to make the decision to shut it down for the season?
It's tough, man. I don't want to let my team down. I want to compete. I love playing. I want to play in every game as long as I'm able to and able to walk. But this time I wasn't able to walk and run like I was supposed to.
Was this different because you never missed a game? Did you feel like you could play through anything?
It's tough. If I'm able to play and able to move around I'm going to play in the game. During this time it was tough for me to kind of sit back and weigh my options on what I wanted to do moving forward.
How hard has it been for you to have to watch the team play?
It's tough, man. But as a point guard and a leader of this team my job is to find a way where I can help my teammates, the coaching staff and the organization. They've been a big supporter of me. And my job is to give it back. Help them out as much as I can and give my input.
How have teammates tried to keep your spirits up?
Just keeping it normal. I think my teammates and, like I said, the fans and the organization has done a great job of keeping it normal. Sending their thoughts and prayers. My teammates definitely, every day always checking on me, which is a great thing. And I feel like my job is to give my input. I'm watching all the games and things like that from a different view now. I never got the chance to sit back and really watch the games so I got a lot of different things that I can say and see.
What's it like watching from the stands?
It's different. It's definitely different. Definitely sitting up in the sky box and kind of seeing the game from a different view, kind of like a fan. Just sitting back and kind of seeing every possession, how things are going and kind of seeing how we can do better.
When did you find out? Was it that Friday morning?
Yeah. We kind of sat down, the medical staff and myself and they decided that was the best decision for me.
Did you think you could play through it?
No. When I was playing on it I was basically playing on one leg. Kind of just hobbling around. You probably could notice, but kind of just hobbling around just trying to find a way where I can do what I can to help my team win. And at the same time I was in pain.
How much pain were you in the night it happened?
A lot because half of it was halftime. Once it got to halftime it got real stiff. So it was tough for me to come back and start running again and jumping. But as the game went on and the crowd is going I'm going to continue to play and try to find a way I can help.
Have you had a chance to see the play? Do you have any thoughts on whether it was dirty or a basketball play?
I've seen it numerous times. That's really something I can't answer. I just hope it wasn't a dirty play. But just moving forward I'm just going to do better, rehab and try to come back better.
What's harder, getting through the mental part of it or the physical aspect?
Both. I never had to rehab anything. This is tough, coming in doing the same thing every day. And then mentally it can be tough. I mean, you've got to keep your spirits high, stay positive and then come in with a mindset of trying to get better.
What have you learned about this team in your absence?
They're tough. I think we have a tough group of guys. We're finding a way to win games. The group of guys we have, I think we have enough to get a ring. I honestly think we've been together long enough to be able to figure things out when guys go down. You can see that.
What have you seen out of Reggie Jackson?
Reggie's done a great job of playing his game. He's been playing with good composure I think, especially going to Houston and taking care of those games and now getting ready to head to Memphis. I think he's done a great job of just controlling the game. Obviously KD handles the ball a little more. But I think Reggie's done a great job of just being consistent and playing his game.
What's been your reaction to the support of the fans?
It's great, man. It's amazing. Like I said, we have the best fan support in all of sports. They do a great job of just supporting you. Whatever it is that you may be going through or they may think you're going through, they help you out and try to find a way to help you get through it.
Do you have any idea of your timetable for traveling with the team or sitting on the bench?
Nah. I just know for now I can't travel, which is tough. But I'm just going to do rehab each and every day. Try to find a way to get off them crutches.
Have you ever been through anything this difficult in life before?
Yeah, I have. I have. I definitely have. But this is a different type of injury or different type of event I would say in my life. But it's something that I've got to find a way to get over.
What would you say to fans saying maybe it'll be different if you were in the game? How would you encourage them as the team moves on?
Just have confidence in the group of guys we have. I think the group of guys that's on the floor is a talented group. They know a lot about the game. We do a lot of film and things like that. They work on their game as much as I would and we have it in control.
What is your timetable for when you can start doing basketball things?
Not sure. I just know for the first four to five weeks I'm on them crutches. And when I get off the crutches then we kind of sit down and see what the timetable is for me.
What's rehab like now?
Just strengthening my quad and try to find a way to keep my leg strong.
Are you doing other stuff like weight work or anything else, even?
No, I can't do that now.
Even upper body stuff?
No. Not really. I try to but not much.
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