By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
For as long as anyone has been listening Russell Westbrook has been making it clear how he feels about Oklahoma City in general and the Thunder in particular.
Just this past Monday on Thunder media day Westbrook said "this is a place I want to be. I love being here. I love the fans. I love the people here."
As his busy summer was ending he even gave us all a hint that some big news might be about to break.
"I'm back now to get a chance to simmer down and get everything situated."
Get everything situated
Now Westbrook has proved once and for all his commitment to the team and the city isn't just talk. The Thunder have confirmed Westbrook has finally signed his supermax contract extension that will keep him in a Thunder uniform through the peak of his career.
Adding this season to the extension Westbrook has the richest total deal in NBA history, 6-years, for approximately $233 million.
In a statement released by the Thunder, Westbrook again mentioned his love for the City and team.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no place I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” said Westbrook. “I am so honored to have the opportunity to continue my career here with the Thunder. From day one the support that Mr. Bennett, Sam, Troy and the entire organization have given me and my family has been incredible, and we are so grateful. When you play in Oklahoma City you play in front of the best fans in the world, I’m looking forward to bringing everything I’ve got, for them, this city and for this organization. WHY NOT?”
Thunder GM Sam Presti, who's had perhaps the best summer any sports league executive could hope to have said this about his superstar MVP.
“Russell’s commitment to the Thunder organization since its inception in 2008 has helped propel us to great heights and stare down great challenges over our first decade,” said Presti. “We are extremely fortunate to have an athlete, competitor and person such as Russell wear the Thunder uniform. To have him cement his legacy as a leader as we enter into our 10th season in Oklahoma City is extraordinary. I am extremely grateful to Russell, his family and to our ownership for the commitment and support that they have demonstrated in supporting our vision for the Thunder.”
A lot of credit also needs to go to the Thunder ownership group, the guys some members of the national media like to call "cheap."
That group could potentially (if Paul George re-signs and Carmelo Anthony picks up next season's option on his contract) be paying out the most money on salaries and luxury taxes in league history...somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million. That's almost how much it cost to buy the entire Seattle SuperSonics organization.
Clay Bennett, Thunder chairman of the board, released this statement about the Westbrook signing.
“Russell represents everything we could have ever hoped for when building a basketball team for Oklahoma City,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His character, integrity and relentless drive have been a great unifier that has deeply and positively affected the spirit of our fans inside our arena, in our classrooms and in our neighborhoods. We recognize and deeply appreciate Russell’s rare and unique abilities as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder, but also understand his presence and impact on our community will be felt for decades to come. On behalf of the entire Thunder organization, our ownership group and all of Oklahoma, I want to express my deepest appreciation to Russell and I know that the very best days for the Thunder are yet to come.”
There's no word yet about any sort of public event for Westbrook but the Thunder will have their annual blue-white scrimmage in Edmond on Sunday at North High School and they will open preseason play in Tulsa against the Houston Rockets.
And for what it's worth...Westbrook signed his extention last year one month to the day after Kevin Durant turned his back on Oklahoma City, Westbrook and the Thunder. Now almost 13 months later he signs his new deal on September 29th...Durant's birthday.