Russell Westbrook is one of the most driven performers in the NBA. Regardless of the occasion or the stakes, Westbrook will give his 100% on the court. Russ has been one of the most consistent stars in the league so far, and this is because of how strong his work ethic is.
Westbrook always gives his best, and never phones in his performances. Despite all the criticisms surrounding Russ, no one can say that he ever takes things lightly on the court.
According to Westbrook himself, this attitude and desire to give a 100% on the court was inspired by Kobe Bryant. In a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote his upcoming documentary, Westbrook spoke about a pickup game he played with Kobe when he was at UCLA (5:46 mark).
Russ was entering his sophomore season, and a lot of NBA players were coming to UCLA to play pickup. On the day Russ was going to play, Kobe Bryant came to take part. Westbrook was dominated by Kobe, who was at the peak of his career at the moment.
But he was able to learn from Kobe, and how he always gave a 100% on each and every night he stepped onto the court. Westbrook took inspiration from Bryant and implemented that mentality in his own game.
“So this one time, going into my sophomore season at UCLA. And a lot of pickup games at UCLA were happening. A lot of superstars would come. But this particular day, Kobe came. And now I’m super hyped and super juiced… Super hyped and I’m just excited to compete. To me Kobe is the best in the world. And I had the opportunity to compete. Me and Kobe, not going back and forth because he was basically killing me. But it’s okay. But the number 1 lesson I got in that is that watching him, and to this day I think we all know it as the Mamba mentality. But when I was younger and watching him, he was competing like the Finals. To me it was so inspiring because it allowed me to understand this is what you need to be like, regardless of where you at, what you doing, however you plan. I took that attitude and ran with it.”
Russ also added that his approach to the game may not be suited to everyone. And even if his teammates have a different approach, he will stick to his mentality and play his hardest each time. Westbrook mentioned that he doesn't take anything for granted, which allows him to push himself as hard as he does to perform.
“This game has given me such an unbelievable platform to help and inspire other people across the world. So any opportunity I have to be able to step up and give everything I have, I do it every time… Some guys got different approaches. And I think I’ll be able to learn that being around Bron, Melo, and AD as the season prolongs. But I do know, just for me personally I know that the game is not promised to me, I know tomorrow is not promised to me at all so every time I step onto the floor, I give everything I have and then I wake up the next day and do the same thing again.”
Russ is one of the most motivated players in the NBA on a nightly basis. Each game he enters, he wants to improve upon his performance from the previous game. It is this mentality that has allowed him to achieve the success he has in the NBA.
But Russ' motivation will be even more so this season, as he and the Lakers aim to win the NBA championship. Russ has come close to winning the championship before, so he isn't likely to let this opportunity slip from his hands.
Playing alongside LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, he has a great team around him to help him win his first ring in the NBA.