Weeks after claiming his first NBA Most Valuable Player award, Oklahoma City Thunder titan Russell Westbrook accessorized a thriving trophy shelf with an ESPY for Best Male Athlete.
Westbrook, 28, edged renowned sporting figures Sidney Crosby (NHL), Kris Bryant (MLB), and Micheal Phelps (Olympian) for the 2017 distinction.
Surrounded by an applauding gala of luminaries, while giving another high-profile acceptance speech, the six-time NBA All Star expressed trademark humility in stating:
"I'm just humbled to be on this stage in a room full of great athletes. I'm just humbled and very thankful."
Following a record-breaking season noted for mainstream recognition, the year of Westbrook continued making headlines late this week amid reports that Thunder officials are attempting a five-year re-sign of the reigning MVP.
Joined by a renewed supporting cast, featuring 2018 unrestricted Free Agent Paul George, conflicting rumors, however, abound concerning where Westbrook or George may land next summer.
Though, currently, OKC front office personnel remains “optimistic” regarding Westbrook extending with Oklahoma City.
Thunder introduce George, Patterson, and Felton
Wednesday, at his introductory Oklahoma City Thunder press conference, Paul George seemed taken aback by the Thunder’s recent pursuit, stating:
"It was surprising. This team wasn't one of the teams that we had in mind. I thought I was going to four or five other teams that were pretty active in trade [talks]. When I found out it was OKC, I was quite surprised, but at the same time I was happy about the trade."
However, George, 27, is intrigued with playing alongside Russell Westbrook and can envision himself in Oklahoma City beyond next summer:
"What impresses me is he (Westbrook) plays the game on the other side of the ball how I do, and that's just being a pest all over the ball, not taking anything...“He reminds me of myself playing on the perimeter." (emphasis mine)
George on a possible Thunder extension following the 17-18 season:
"If we love where we're at and we feel like we can do something special here (Oklahoma City), I'm open to it.”
During his inaugural OKC presser, veteran Raymond Felton cited the Thunder’s off-season upgrades as an impetus for inking a one-year deal July 7:
“I think it (the Thunder's offseason moves) was a factor that made it 100 percent...But it was also one of the teams I was looking for, I was targeting from the beginning. But after the moves, it was a no-brainer.”
One such move in a domino effect of impressive signings included stretch-four Patrick Patterson. Patterson, like many Thunder supporters, believes this untapped Oklahoma City lineup can become an exceptional collection:
“Seeing the names, the coaching, the organization and city behind us, we don’t know how good we can truly be... You look at the names, you see the roster and see the potential. You know how good each individual is, but collectively you’re not sure. The not knowing part excites me because you have so many guys who can do so many things exceptionally well.”