Michael Jordan is savage.
Or just speaking a truth that has nothing to do with Kevin Durant, or the Golden State Warriors, or thinly veiled potshots.
We’ll let you decide.
His Airness spoke at Russell Westbrook’s induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, an honor that was bestowed upon Durant just last year. During his speech, Jordan waxed approval for Westbrook’s allegiance to the team and city a certain someone recently left behind.
Per Royce Young of ESPN.com:
“Another thing you guys should be proud of is the sense of loyalty this kid has shown,” Jordan said as the crowd burst into an extended cheer.
Following the departure of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors in July, Westbrook responded by signing an extension with the Thunder in August.
“He could’ve easily come to Charlotte,” Jordan said, smiling, “But he decided to stay here in Oklahoma. I’m not here to try and bash anybody that’s not here. Everybody has a choice. I’m not saying everybody doesn’t have a choice. But when I saw he chose to stay in Oklahoma I was so proud, and as Clay [Bennett] knows and Russ know, I texted him to show a sense of respect.”
I’m sure this has nothing to do with Durant, or the Warriors, and that it’s totally just Jordan paying homage to Westbrook. (Just kidding.)
So yeah, Westbrook deserved the honor Thursday night. No bones about it. His own powerful speech was a reminder of that, as if we even needed it, per Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript:
Westbrook used his platform tonight not to talk about basketball, but to speak about something more important. Passage from his speech: pic.twitter.com/IUjEAxVaCl
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) November 18, 2016
Before we go declaring Westbrook the next Tim Duncan, however, let’s see how the rest of his contract plays out. Yes, he signed an extension with the Thunder, but he earned a massive and immediate raise by doing so, while only delaying his free-agency option by one summer.
Not to say his loyalty shouldn’t be celebrated. Even if he makes it to free agency in 2018 and leaves, he’ll have spent one more year repping the Thunder franchise than Durant. Still, you can’t help but wonder what the reaction to him leaving on his own accord—i.e. not via trade—would be if this relationship ever comes to that crossroads.