No off-days or game-day texts: Russell Westbrook's work ethic is legendary

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Chase Hughes
·3 min read
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No off-days or game-day texts: Westbrook's work ethic is legendary originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

One of the reasons why the Wizards chose to trade for Russell Westbrook was because they believed his work ethic and competitive nature would set an important example for their young players. Making sure that effect takes place, however, can be easier said than done.

Much of the extra work Westbrook does is when no one else is around. And complicating matters further are the league's coronavirus restrictions this season, which have the team split up between multiple locker rooms for social distancing.

Westbrook, according to head coach Scott Brooks, comes in to the Wizards practice facility in Southeast Washington every off-day to train. When they practice early in the afternoon, he returns hours later at night to get treatment and put up extra shots.

In order to ensure their young players see all of that, the Wizards have rotated locker room assignments to get guys like rookie Deni Avdija exposure to how Westbrook works on his craft.

"It’s important for Deni to see our leadership and how they prepare. This is a tough business," Brooks said.

"You can’t give in to off-days. You have to fight through it. For him to see that at a young age, that’s very important. I’ve been in locker rooms and I’m sure everyone has been in locker rooms where you have veteran guys that are not so good for the young guys. They see some bad things, they see some bad habits, they see some unprofessional things. With Brad [Beal] and Russell, they’re not seeing that."

Westbrook said leading by example is part of his role as a veteran on the Wizards. He has long prided himself on his dedication to practice and doing everything he can to maximize his natural abilities.

The Wizards hope Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and the 2016-17 NBA MVP, can impart the lessons he's learned over the years to players like Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and others. Brooks said when Westbrook shows up late at night to shoot at the practice facility, the young players hear about it.

If they want to fall in line, it may require cutting into their lives off the court.

"It’s huge to make sacrifices. But that part, I don’t have to worry about so much. My life is a little different than theirs. I’ve got three kids," Westbrook said. 

"They probably live by their self, a lot of the guys. With my wife and three kids, my life is totally different with sacrifices and the time and things I can do, especially throughout my whole career. It’s something they’ve gotta figure out what’s best for them to create some consistency in their own game."

Westbrook, now 32, has everyone in his life accustomed to his schedule and approach to playing in the NBA. He has set boundaries in his social life and it goes well beyond him not being able to hang out on weekends.

If you know Westbrook, then you know there are a few days a week you aren't even allowed to contact him.

"Everybody knows. When it’s game day, they know not to call me, text me. I talk to my mom, my dad, my brother, my wife and my kids. Other than that, that’s pretty much it, unless it’s an emergency," he said.

"It’s because it’s my job. A lot of people see this as entertainment, but it’s my actual job. This is what I do. I treat it as a job. Like any other job somebody has and they take their job seriously, I expect everybody to take my job seriously as well."