Russell Westbrook is one of four players that give the LA Clippers the reputation of an extremely top-heavy, talent-laden roster. The former league MVP has been one of the most recognizable names in the NBA for over a decade.
As such, many players in the league today grew up watching Westbrook and tried to emulate his playstyle on the court. One player who falls into this category is Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.
Recently, Mitchell talked about the inspiration he took from Westbrook's game in an appearance on the Run Your Race Podcast. Donovan explained that Westbrook gave him a 'Welcome to the NBA' moment of sorts during his rookie season.
Westbrook gave Mitchell a 'Welcome to the NBA' moment
Mitchell recalled that when matched up against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2017-18 season as a rookie, he got caught by a shot fake and fouled Westbrook. Having studied the former MVP so closely and without thinking about it, Mitchell instinctively told him "good shot fake."
In a very on-brand response, Westbrook shot him a questionable look and shrugged him off, walking in the other direction. Clearly, Russell was not in the mood for any friendly interactions and was cognizant of a rookie potentially trying to get under his skin.
The story very accurately matches up with Russell Westbrook's competitive nature and no-nonsense attitude. He may not be the player he was six years ago, but he still brings that same focused attitude that he had back then to the Clippers today.