Chris Paul loved the ‘different energy’ from OKC crowd for Russell Westbrook’s return
Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Chris Paul knew the energy inside Chesapeake Energy Arena would be electric for Russell Westbrook’s return.
Paul and the Thunder served as hosts to Westbrook and the Rockets on Thursday night. It was a reunion of friends, and OKC fans made it clear that they still have love for Russ. In fact, the crowd showered the former UCLA standout with MVP chants during team introductions. And as a sign of their appreciation, Oklahoma City played a tribute video for Westbrook.
This Russ tribute video pic.twitter.com/0arP5YCRqF
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 10, 2020
“During player intros, me and Shai were just sitting over there talking about … ‘Alright, let’s get to it,’” Chris Paul said, via The Athletic.
“The energy was amazing,” Paul added. “It was our first nationally-televised game and Russ being back. The crowd is always great, but we knew that it was going to be a different energy tonight.”
Paul and the Thunder went on to defeat Westbrook and the Rockets, 113-92. Despite the loss, Russell later stated that he “felt like he was home.”
“Man, some things you can’t put into words, just because I’ve been here so long, so many great memories, great people,” Russell Westbrook said, via ESPN. “Obviously, the best fans in the world, because they come with it, and tonight they came with it.
“The organization, Sam [Presti], Mr. [Clay] Bennett, they do an amazing job of just making you feel home. And I felt like I was home.”
To be crystal clear, Westbrook is beloved in Oklahoma City, and he is deserving of such esteemed recognition. To this day, he’s the team’s all-time leading scorer and is second in minutes played. Though he’s no longer with the Thunder, the memories he left behind will live on forever.
Nevertheless, a nice reaction from fans. In today’s modern fandom space, it’s rare for returning players to receive anything other than jeers from their former fans. The Thunder fans showed some good character.
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