OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook said he will come back a better player

Training camp starts Saturday, and Oklahoma City's All-Star point guard has not yet been cleared to resume full basketball activities. Team officials are not providing a timetable for when Westbrook will return.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: September 25, 2013 at 9:41 am •  Published: September 23, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook speaks to the media on Thursday, May 9, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Okla. for the first time about his season-ending knee injury sustained in a first round NBA basketball playoff game against Houston.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook speaks to the media on Thursday, May 9, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Okla. for the first time about his season-ending knee injury sustained in a first round NBA basketball playoff game against Houston. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Russell Westbrook isn't making any promises about when he'll be back on the basketball court.

But the All-Star point guard does offer something of a guarantee for whenever that day might be.

“I'm going to come back and be better,” Westbrook said matter-of-factly Monday, with the same unshakable swagger he's always shown.

As excitement builds over Saturday's start to training camp, Westbrook is eagerly anticipating his long-awaited return from the knee injury that cut short his 2013 postseason.

Westbrook has not yet been cleared to resume full basketball activities, and neither he nor team officials are providing a timetable for when that final obstacle will be overcome.

“We expect him to take part in parts of camp and work his way through different parts until he's ultimately cleared for unrestricted activity,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “But it's all going to be contingent upon how his body reacts to the additional load that he'll be carrying.”

Westbrook spent much of his summer months preparing his body for a comeback. He remained in Oklahoma City for long stretches, at the team's training facility with a singular focus — strengthening his leg. When he traveled he journeyed with training partners or made appointments with physical therapists.

“I tried taking it one day at a time and not (worry about) the timetable,” Westbrook said. “Just take it one day at a time and try to find a way to strengthen myself and make sure I'm ready to go when it's time.”

For now, Westbrook sounds confident about all the questions he'll undoubtedly face in his return.

When asked about regaining his rhythm after such a long layoff (he was injured April 24), Westbrook said bouncing back from this setback is no different from any other.

“That's just part of rehab,” Westbrook said. “You have an injury. Whenever you twist your ankle or anything minor you still need to find a way to keep your rhythm and gain your rhythm back.”

When asked about his confidence, specifically whether his belief in his abilities will need to be restored, Westbrook didn't hesitate.

“I'll always have confidence,” he said. “I never lose confidence in myself or my ability to do whatever. The organization has been doing a great job of helping me through the rehab process so I'm confident and I'll be confident enough in my leg to do whatever I need to do.”


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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