Russell Westbrook’s “Started From The Bottom Story”
Long before Drake had a song out claiming that he started from the bottom, Russell Westbrook was really living it. Westbrook has a story that most basketball fans don’t know anything about (including me -until this article). If you think his story begins at UCLA you’re sadly mistaken. In fact, it begins as a grassroots story that Ben Howland, former UCLA coach, is able to tell best. Howland visited Leuzinger High School (just outside of LA.) Why was Howland there to begin with? Westbrook wasn’t heavily recruited, wasn’t on a McDonald’s All-American Watch List or even on a highlight reel for that matter. Howland’s assistant, Kerry Keating put the bug in his ear that he’d come to see Westbrook 6 times his senior year.
The 5’9 scrawny Westbrook still had some growing to do. Keating says that his first time seeing young Westbrook he shot two airballs, made poor decisions, got frustrated and forced the action. But most of his mistakes came when he tried to get others involved. However, what could not be taken away from him was (and still is) his motor, intensity and competitiveness. His rotation, lift and release on his jump shot were better than expected. He dove on the floor. All things coaches love to see.
“A lot of people who are in the NBA now have been good since they were eight. I wasn’t good until I was 17.” -Russell Westbrook.
Before his senior year started Westbrook grew five inches. The start of a beast was born as he would go on to average 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game.
Fun Fact: Westbrook almost didn’t get picked up by UCLA. If Jordan Farmer had decided not to be a pro there would’ve been no room for Westbrook as a scholarship player. Thank God Farmer went to the league huh?
Shortly after Farmer declared for the draft Westbrook signed his letter of intent for UCLA. He went from being an unheralded player (but not unknown) from LA to one of the most electrifying scoring point guards the game knows. That’s a started from the bottom story that lead him right to the NBA.