Russell Westbrook made his return to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday night for the first time as a member of the Houston Rockets and he was greeted with a roaring, standing ovation from everyone in the building. Westbrook, who spent his first 11 seasons in Oklahoma City, was also honored with a chilling, two-minute tribute video that played before the Rockets’ starting lineup was introduced.
From his thunderous dunks and clutch moments to his off-court playfulness and charitable efforts, it was the perfect montage to welcome Russ back to OKC. Check out the tribute video in the tweet embedded below.
The raucous crowd had Westbrook firing on all cylinders from the jump, as “MVP” chants filled the arena prior to tip-off. It was a hero’s welcome and Westbrook applauded the organization and the fans for their efforts on Thursday night.
“Man, some things you can’t put into words, just because I’ve been here so long, so many great memories, great people,” Westbrook said, per 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.”
Westbrook led all scorers with 34 points, but it was the Thunder who took control of the game from the start en route to their 113-92 victory. Though the outcome wasn’t what Houston was hoping for, James Harden had to admit it was an incredible atmosphere in OKC last night.
“That was dope. Obviously, we got smacked, but it was a dope environment,” said Harden. “Oklahoma City, as usual, showed mad love to Russell and everything he’s done for those 11 years he was here. Obviously, an unbelievable fan base, and it was just a beautiful thing to see.”