Looking back at Russell Westbrook's unique return to Oklahoma City

Since being traded away from the Thunder, Russell Westbrook played his first game in Oklahoma City without a former teammate on the roster
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It's been less than two full seasons since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Russell Westbrook away. However, in that short span of time, the roster has been completely overhauled as OKC enters a rebuild. 

Twice this week, Westbrook played against his former team without a single teammate remaining from his time on the team. On Monday night, the Thunder and Wizards faced off in Washington followed by a matchup in Oklahoma City on Friday. Both ended with the Wizards on top by a combined 32 points. 

In both matchups, Westbrook notched a triple-double, which was something he's become known for dating back to his time in OKC where he averaged one for three-straight seasons.

As a member of the Thunder, he was the face of the franchise and did great things over the course of 11 seasons. The first draft pick in Thunder history back in 2008 for their inaugural season, he would go on to average 23.0 points, 8.4 assists and 7.0 rebounds through 821 games in Oklahoma City. He would earn NBA All-Star honors eight times in OKC to go along with an MVP award.

Last season, in his very first return to Oklahoma City with the Houston Rockets, he got a warm welcome and tribute video. While many players get these nowadays, this one was particularly special given the circumstances.

Scott Brooks, who is Westbrook's current head coach in Washington and former head coach in Oklahoma City, joked this week about how emphatic Westbrook's original return to OKC was compared to his.

This season's return to Oklahoma City felt different for Westbrook with no fans in the stands. The Thunder are one of the few teams in the NBA that opted to go the entire season without any fans.

Nonetheless, his impact on the franchise will live forever. Current Thunder Head Coach Mark Daigneault has been with the organization since 2014 and is very familiar with Westbrook's contributions on the court as well as in the community throughout Oklahoma. 

“When our guys are shooting in our gym, the fact that he’s been in that gym and has shot at our baskets, he laid a lot of groundwork in this organization that we appreciate and respect the hell out of,” Daigneault said this week.

In fact, Westbrook was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2018, showing just how much he meant in the state. 

Westbrook has notched 17 triple-doubles in his last 22 games, including two against the Thunder this week. On his path to breaking the all-time NBA record for most in a career, Westbrook notched his 175th on Friday against the Thunder, leaving him just six shy of Oscar Robertson's record of 181 with 13 games left this season. At the rate he's going, Westbrook could easily break the record before the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. 

In two matchups against his former team in the Oklahoma City Thunder this week, Russell Westbrook helped the Washington Wizards pull of two wins while earning two triple-doubles with a combined 50 points, 28 assists and 22 rebounds.