Russell Westbrook made history with one of his career-defining performances little over four years ago. He put up an incredible stat line in a 119-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers: 20 points, 21 assists, and 20 rebounds.
The only other player to achieve a 20/20/20 line in an NBA game prior to this one was the legendary Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. The tale behind the box score made the performance unique in addition to the box score itself.
Russell’s lead up to the game and death of his buddy Nipsey Hussle
Nipsey Hussle, a rapper and close friend of Westbrook, died just a few days earlier on March 31 after being shot and killed in front of his Los Angeles store. Both Nipsey Hussle and Westbrook were raised in Los Angeles, where they developed strong bonds with one another.
While Westbrook visited Nipsey Hussle to commemorate the launch of his apparel store, the rapper got engaged with his organization by helping serve Thanksgiving meal to his guests. As anyone would, Westbrook was profoundly saddened by the passing of a close friend, but after taking a few days off to grieve, he was prepared for the performance that we would eventually honor to Nipsey Hussle after the game.
A tweet was shared by Russell after the death of his buddy on his Twitter Account.
YOU’RE ONE OF ONE BRO!!! Rest Up King 🙏🏾🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/fXzJesHlaB
— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) April 1, 2019
The meaning of 20/20/20 is significantly more profound
The sum of the numbers equals 60, which corresponds to the 1960s and the Los Angeles district where Nipsey Hussle grew up. Only Russell Westbrook is capable of putting on such a display. It just seemed like fate, even if we don’t know if Westbrook had set those goals before the game.
After the All-Star break, the 2018–19 Thunder were having trouble winning games, but Westbrook’s performance propelled the team to a strong five-game winning streak to finish the regular season on a high note going into the playoffs.
Westbrook claimed it was “just an unbelievable moment that I definitely won’t take for granted, won’t let pass by” after the game : “[I’m] just completely humbled and thankful to go out and play, man. I don’t even know what to say, how to put it into words, honestly. I just do what I can, honestly.”
The performance gave Westbrook some solace after losing a close friend, and it also provided an emotional moment that NBA and Thunder fans will never forget.