Despite being traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder nearly three years ago, Russell Westbrook has still made efforts to give back to his former NBA home.

Monday was the latest example of that, as a crowd of people filled with students, school staff and media gathered at a new outdoor futsal court at Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City, partially funded by Russell Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation.

The court is a hybrid one that will be used for basketball and soccer practices and games with goals set up behind the basketball hoops. The school is a predominantly BIPOC — Black, Indigenous, people of color — school as 91.8 percent of the student population consists of either Hispanic, Black, Indigenous, Asian or multiracial kids, according to U.S. News.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a well-kept secret as media members only found out about it a few days prior. Speakers of the event included Capitol Hill High School principal Adam Jewell, OKCPS superintendent Sean McDaniel and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Westbrook.

“It’s my understanding that today’s event was not really publicly advertised because half of Oklahoma City would have shown up this morning,” said Holt. “I am, however, legally empowered to speak for all of Oklahoma City. and I know that the people of Oklahoma City – every single one – would have wanted to be here today.”

Westbrook, now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, played the first 11 seasons of his career with the Thunder before being traded to the Houston Rockets in July 2019. He won the Most Valuable Player award during the 2016-2017 season and played a key role in the Thunder’s NBA Finals berth in 2012.

Even though Westbrook has now been on three separate teams in three seasons since the trade, his heart still belongs to Oklahoma City.

“When [Westbrook] walked out today, I said, ‘Welcome home,’” Holt said. “I’m gonna say that every single time he steps foot in Oklahoma City because of all the memories he left… I don’t know if you knew this Russ, but last night [marked 10 years since] our Game 1 victory in the [2012] NBA Finals. That was one of many hundreds of amazing memories this MVP, this Oklahoma Hall of Famer, this Oklahoma City legend left us with. But more importantly, is the incredible philanthropic donations that he made and continues to make.”

Holt ended his speech by presenting Westbrook with a key to the city, a symbol of Westbrook’s continued impact in Oklahoma City.

“My foundation strictly wants to continue to support things in Oklahoma City as much as we can,” Westbrook said. “This place for me was home and it’s still home for me.”

By Clemente Almanza for The Norman Transcript


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