The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 5, 2014

Westbrook off crutches

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook already is off crutches and shooting free throws, but the All-Star point guard says he doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to return to the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Westbrook, who underwent his third knee surgery since April on Dec. 27, offered his first public comments since his latest surgery before the Thunder’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Westbrook’s on-court performance was fine — he had a triple-double by the middle of the third quarter in a Christmas Day win over the New York Knicks  —and he said he wasn’t in any pain, but his knee “just kept swelling and swelling.”

After he underwent an MRI, the decision was made to undergo arthroscopic surgery instead of just trying to rest.

“You don’t really know either way, resting or going in and doing surgery, but me personally, I’m just trying to do what’s best for my body and what’s best for me in the future,” Westbrook said.

He said there’s “never a doubt” that he won’t be able to return to form.

Before Sunday, Westbrook hadn’t played since tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee during the second game of the NBA playoffs last April. The injury occurred when Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley banged knees with him while going for a steal after Westbrook had stopped to call a timeout.

Westbrook underwent an initial surgery for the injury on April 27. He underwent another surgery on Oct. 1 to remove a loose stitch from the first procedure. At the time, the Thunder said he would miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season. Under that timetable, Westbrook could have been out for as many as 22 games, but instead, he missed only the season’s first two games.

Westbrook said then he never expected to be out four to six weeks. This time, the Thunder has said they expect him to be out until after the All-Star break.

“I don’t pay no attention to those projections,” Westbrook said. “I just wake up and try to get better each and every day. That’s it.”

Entering Sunday, the Thunder was 3-2 since Westbrook’s latest surgery. He said he’s trying to stay involved with the team as much as he can while he’s out of the lineup.

“This time of the year, it’s very important for me and my teammates to be able to get through this stretch, find a way to continue to get wins, and me personally, I want to come in and stay positive and be around my teammates and stay involved with what’s going on,” Westbrook said.

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