Given all the criticism that surrounds Russell Westbrook, it's hard to fathom he now is surrounded by the two greatest point guards in NBA history.
Westbrook entered Tuesday night's home game against the Utah Jazz needing 11 points to reach 5,000 in his young career. He already had surpassed 1,900 in career assists and 1,300 in career rebounds.
By reaching the scoring plateau, the 23-year-old Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history to reach these totals through their first 274 games.
“That's pretty good, huh?” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, confronting doubting reporters with a smile. “Just think if he played the way you want him to play.”
Westbrook got his 5,000th point with 2:54 left in the second quarter of OKC's 111-85 victory over the Jazz.
Oddly, the milestone came on an alley-oop pass from Thunder point center Kendrick Perkins, who stole the ball at the opposite free-throw line and dribbled 50 feet before delivering the assist.
Brooks claimed he had no idea of the company Westbrook was keeping, and Westbrook seemed surprised himself.
“That's a great group of guys to be even close with,” Westbrook said. “It's a good accomplishment.”
Teammates think the achievement is significantly better than “good.”
Kevin Durant: “That's a big-time feat. To be up there with the greats of the game is an honor. I'm sure he's very excited. I'm happy for him. He's done so much in this league, and he has a lot to go. I'm glad I'm playing with him.”
Daequan Cook: “Man, that's amazing. He does a lot for this team. A lot of people don't recognize that, but those are great names to be with. It just shows how much of a teammate he really is. As a player, you want to improve every year. Russell, he does that. He works on something every year.”
Thabo Sefolosha: “He's talented. He's just got that natural talent and confidence. I'm happy for him. That speaks volumes for a guy his age. A lot of people criticize his game, but he gets it done and you have to take the good with the bad.”