Russell Westbrook looking forward to future with Wizards, in D.C.

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Westbrook looking forward to future with Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For a long time, Russell Westbrook was the small market superstar. He embraced everything about playing for the Thunder and living in Oklahoma City, the 41st-largest metro area in the United States with one single skyscraper sticking out above all the rest.

If anything, he was fiercely loyal, to the franchise and the community. He laid down roots like few stars do, remaining with the team even as other stars left. He built a deep connection with the fanbase.

But Westbrook has now played for three teams in three years, first with a trade to the Houston Rockets before last season and then with a trade to Washington in December. The guy who was in one place for 11 years is now all of a sudden frequently on the move.

Westbrook, though, is starting to make D.C. his home. He just completed his first season with the Wizards, one which saw the team make the playoffs for the first time in three years, and he's excited about the future.

"It’s been great. Obviously, Covid started it off a little different. I couldn’t do much, I had to stay inside a lot. But it’s opening up now a little bit and enjoying the city," he said after the Wizards were eliminated by the Sixers on Wednesday night.

"I’ve been seeing more people, seeing the fans. It’s really been great. I’m looking forward to especially next year, having everything settled down and back to normal. I’m looking forward to it."

Westbrook was traded to the Wizards after training camp began, a camp that was shorter than most in a condensed season during the coronavirus pandemic. Three weeks later, he was playing his first regular season game for his new team and seven months later, his first season with them was over.

It was a whirlwind that featured so many games the Wizards rarely practiced. That made most questions posed to Westbrook by the media related to games. Rarely did he have time to stop, think and reflect on his new surroundings, at least outwardly.

Back in May, though, Westbrook did offer some thoughts on what it was like to be with the Wizards.

"It’s been great. The city, the team, the coaches; everybody has kind of welcomed me and my family with open arms. That’s all you can ask for," he said.

Westbrook is under contract with the Wizards for two more years, the second being a player option. He helped the franchise take a sizable step forward in the 2020-21 season and seems ready to keep building what he has helped start.