Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook spoke to the media Sunday for the first time since undergoing a third surgery in eight months. Here is the full transcript of his pregame interview.
Q: The first time you went through this it was a tear, the second time it was a loose stitch. Both of those are sort of self-explanatory. This one, from the way it was explained to you, what was the area of concern this time?
A: Just a little swelling. That was about it.
Why this course of action and not just resting it? Why continue to go in there and continue to do arthroscopic surgeries?
Well, you don’t really know either way, resting or going in and doing surgery. But me personally, I’m just trying to do what’s best for my body and what’s best for me in the future.
How often were they draining it before you guys went to this route?
Were you feeling any pain at all when you were playing?
Not at all.
Did you go to the team and say that you wanted to play through it? Was any of it your decision?
I mean, it was nothing to play through. I wasn’t in no pain. I was just playing basketball, going out there trying to help my team win and competing. And my knee just kept swelling and swelling. So we had to do what’s best.
How’s it doing now? Is it still swelling?
I’m doing great. I’m about eight days out of surgery so I’m just trying to find my way.
Eight days out of surgery and it’s kind of similar to the last time. You lost the crutches. You started shooting free throws. You’re out there warming up pregame. Does that progression give you optimism that this might not last as long as it’s expected to.
I’m not sure, man. I just wake up and try to get on the floor as quick as possible, man. I just try to do what’s best for my body and just take it day by day.
So you have a triple-double against the Knicks. When and how did you find out that was it?
I was supposed to get evaluated after the game or prior to the game just based on time periods of getting evaluations on my knee like I’ve been doing throughout the season.
Will you walk us through just the roller coaster of emotions that goes on when you come back and you’re out again and just what you’ve had to work through?
I mean, it’s tough. I mean, you just got to try to find a way to keep a rhythm. Stay intact with the team. Find a way to keep your spirits up and be ready to play next time.
How have you done that this time? You’ve gone on the trips, you’ve been on the bench. How have you stayed involved?
I just try to stay involved as much as possible. Keep my team how I stay. Continue to be a leader. Try to find a way to help us win games.
When you went through this in October, you said you had your own timeline. You really weren’t on the team’s page. Do you have your own timeline this time, and what is it?
I’m always on the team’s page. I don’t understand that.
I’m talking about the projection, the original four-to-six week projection. You said you didn’t know who came up with that.
Yeah, I don’t pay no attention to none of those projections, man. I just wake up and try to get better each and every day. That’s is.
Can you share what you’re thinking this time around?
Have you ever asked your doctors ‘What the hell is going on?’
Laughs. (Under his breath) Do I ask my doctors that?
I mean, three surgeries in however many months.
Uh, yeah, of course, man. But at the same time, it’s all based on your body, how your body reacts. If I had control over what I could do, I would have never got surgery in the first place.
Is there any doubt in your mind you’ll ever be the same explosive player?
Never. Never a doubt. Never a doubt.
Sam (Presti) and Scotty (Brooks) keep talking about benchmarks. Just where are you in terms of those benchmarks? How much are you able to do now a week out?
You already said it. I was shooting free throws.
I see you shoot free throws, but there’s a lot we don’t get to see you do.
That’s…Keep it that way.
Do you feel like you’re close to being able to go full contact or any kind of contact?
That was funny. You asked the same thing. That was funny, though. That was cute.
Sam said you got the MRI on the 23rd or 24th and it showed the area of concern but then you went out there and played Christmas. Why did you decide to play Christmas if they had figured out that something was up?
I wasn’t in any pain. And we wasn’t for sure (something) was going on. Like I said, I was going to get evaluated after the game anyway. So I wasn’t in no danger of hurting myself or hurting my body or hurting anything else in my knee.
The evaluation after the game is when you found out? When did you get the news, after the game?
No, no, no. I got evaluated after the game.
And that’s when…
That’s all you’re going to get. You ain’t getting no more.
I’m just asking is that when you found out?
(Grumbles). Stop trying.
You mentioned your leadership being important after the original surgery and your voice you said is a very important factor in the locker room. Why is that the case now as well?
It’s very important. I think this time of the year it’s very important for myself and my teammates to get through this stretch. Find a way to continue to get wins. Me personally, I want to come in and stay positive and still be around my teammates and stay involved with what’s going on.
Is this the exact same procedure that was done in October?
What you mean?
The procedure that you got done on the knee, the arthroscopic surgery. Is it the exact same procedure?
It’s a different one?
How was it different?
Uh, well, I’m going to refer that answer to the doctors and the team. I’m going to leave that up to them.
(Note: the second surgery Westbrook had was an arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose stitch. The latest procedure is believed to be nothing more than a clean-up surgery.)