When news broke on Friday that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook tore his meniscus, there was still some hope that he’d be able to return before the Thunder’s run in the playoffs ended. That hope ended up being misplaced and completely false, as after having surgery on Saturday, Russell Westrbook has been ruled out for the remainder of the NBA Playoffs.
“Although we are of course disappointed that Russell will be unable to return to the floor with his teammates this season, the opportunity to repair the meniscus as opposed to remove it was the best possible scenario for Russell’s long term health as a player and person,” general manager Sam Presti said in a team statement. “Russell’s health and well being are obviously our number one priority through this process and today’s procedure helped solidify our belief that Russell will have many productive years of basketball in his future.”
The loss of Westbrook is devastating but it’s not a death knell in the Thunder’s season. Reggie Jackson has massive shoes to fill, but the team flows through Kevin Durant and he’s now going to be counted on more so than he’s ever been in the past. The team not only needs Durant’s production, they need his motivation and leadership to lead Oklahoma City as far as they can go.
Obviously, all of the attention now shifts to the healthy Miami Heat, who are once again solid favorites to win the NBA title, especially now that Westbrook as been ruled out.
But this team is special, as we saw last year, and it’s foolish to count them out just because Westbrook is. However, the road just got a lot harder and the pressure is truly on.