“When Russell asked me to be a presenter, I didn’t even pause because of the relationship and the respect that I have for Clay (Bennett) and obviously the respect that I have for Russell. I’m truly a fan of his. If you can ever say, being that we’re so many years apart, that I can now watch him play, I see a lot of resemblance in his passion for the game of basketball in the way I play the game of basketball.
“I am truly honored once again to be here. I’m not from Oklahoma but I feel like I’m from Oklahoma. Unfortunately I never had a chance to play a basketball game here in Oklahoma. I feel like if I would have brought my shoes and my shorts, I would have been out there probably trying to play a game of basketball somehow, either with Russell or some of the team.
“It’s an unbelievable city. I’m very proud when I flew in to obviously see the place here and the hospitality I’ve felt thus far. Thank you, Clay, once again for inviting me. It’s truly a privilege. Make sure to remember we (the Charlotte Hornets) play you guys twice. Remember the deal.
“Russell Westbrook. I can’t say enough about this gentleman. As I’ve said, I’ve looked at him from afar. I’ve had conversations about him with Sam (Presti), the conversations we had when you guys were about to draft him and I was trying to move up in the draft to get him, which you knew. But the thing about him that very few basketball players have is his passion for the game of basketball. Every time I play the game of basketball and I stepped onto the floor, I always felt like there was someone there that never saw me play the game of basketball. And that motivated me every single night. This kid has the same passion, and you can’t give that. To me, that’s a sense of respect for the game of basketball.
“I think another thing you guys should be proud of is the sense of loyalty this kid’s shown. He could have easily come to Charlotte … but he decided to stay here in Oklahoma. I’m not here to try to bash anyone that’s not here. Everybody has a choice. When I saw he chose to stay in Oklahoma, I was so proud. As Clay knows and as Russ knows, I texted him to show a sense of respect, because you guys have a very, very special kid.
“That he even allowed me to come up and stand and present him into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, I can’t say enough what kind of special kid that you have. He’s done a lot for the game of basketball. He’s done a lot outside the game of basketball. He’s has an unbelievable family. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to spend time with the family. Little man (Ray Westbrook) is the best. I like him. His mom, his dad, they’re great people, so you guys are very special.
“But in terms of Russell, his passion for the game of basketball, you don’t teach that. You’re born with that. He shares it with everyone here in Oklahoma. You guys should be certainly proud of that, and the effort and the loyalty he’s showed to this state, to this city and this community. Each and every day he’s goes out with his Why Not? campaign and his foundation to make sure less fortunate kids get the opportunity to participate in things they’d never even have the opportunity to participate in. He does a great job supporting this community. Feel proud about Russell Westbrook.”