I can still remember the moment I purchased my very first NBA jersey.
I was on eBay, and I had spotted a bargain offer. A sports apparel seller was going into liquidation, and they were selling their stock at a bargain price. The seller had an abundance of Oklahoma City Thunder jerseys.
I wanted the turquoise jersey, but unfortunately, the seller did not have this jersey in my size. However, the seller had a Thunder ‘Blue Icon’ jersey for sale that was in my size, and it was dead cheap. I did not think twice and bought the jersey off eBay; this jersey is the first jersey that I have purchased with my own money.
The jersey has Russell Westbrook’s name and number on the back, a choice which I made because it felt like that era of the Thunder was coming to a close. I bought the jersey in early July when the possibility of Westbrook being traded was probable. Paul George was gone in a trade to the Clippers, and the writing was on the wall.
I had to get something to celebrate that era of Thunder basketball as I committed to watching basketball in the first year post-Kevin Durant. I had only ever watched basketball casually before 2016.
Westbrook felt like the only acceptable jersey for me; he is my favorite player to watch on a nightly basis. When Westbrook is on, his game has an energy to it that is different from any other player in the league. He plays hard every night, and I love watching players that leave nothing on the hardwood.
I bought the jersey on July 8, and it was supposed to arrive at my house on July 13. The only issue was that I was busy that day. I was going to a Japanese Car Festival with a friend of mine so I could not receive the parcel. Luckily, my parents were at home so that the courier could drop the package off, and I would open it up when I got home in the evening.
On July 12, the news dropped. Russell was traded to the Houston Rockets for Paul and picks. The ‘Woj Bomb’ came in the early hours of the morning, and my phone was flooded with notifications when I woke up. All of the information said that Westbrook was going to Houston. I was sad when I saw the tweet.
Despite the fact, I expected Westbrook to be gone, and it still hurt when the trade was made official. Westbrook and Oklahoma City were always associated in my mind. It was difficult to separate them.
All of the emotions which I felt towards the trade drove me to write about what Russell meant to Oklahoma City. I called the article an ‘Ode’ at the time, but it was more like a tribute to Westbrook. It is the most straightforward article I have written, the words just flowed out of me, but it was difficult to write emotionally.
There were moments when I sat there at my MacBook, just thinking about all of the good times that Russell Westbrook caused. It was surreal, and the trade only felt legitimate when Westbrook sat on stage next to Daryl Morey.
I left early in the morning on July 13 to go to the car festival with my mate, and around midday, I received a text from DHL saying that my parcel was successfully delivered. I came home in the evening and unwrapped the box. The moment itself was bittersweet, I had a Thunder jersey, but my favorite player no longer played for the team I supported.
The jersey itself was pretty dope. The Thunder ‘Blue’ looks way better in person than it does on television. In-person, the color is lighter than it comes across on the screen. The jersey seems more vibrant because of this.
I love this jersey and have worn it quite a few times already. I even wore my Thunder jersey to an exam that I had last August. I feel happy that I got my first purchase right in the sense that I bought something that looked cool and was different from a lot of jerseys out there.
Basketball is a niche sport in the United Kingdom, and a lot of shops only stock jerseys from teams like the Lakers, Heat, and the Celtics.
There are very few places that have Oklahoma City jerseys, and I have never seen anybody wear a Thunder jersey in the UK.
It was nice to have a jersey that stood out among the hordes of LeBron James jerseys.