Things We Learned From Russell Westbrook’s ‘ESPN’ Magazine Interview

Russell Westbrook on the cover of “ESPN” magazine’s Photo Issue.
Photo: ESPN

If you haven’t read Sam Alipour’s interview with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook for ESPN magazine yet, I’m squarely marking it as required reading for every human I care about (consider yourself in that league—yea, YOU!). First of all, the Q&A is incredibly long but only because Russ SO warrants it. For someone catching as much attention (and magazine features, holy moly!) as he has been for the past year, it’s a little unheard of for the general public to know almost nothing about him. Welp, thanks to ESPN and Alipour that’s all about to change as their conversation is published alongside a candy-colored fashion spread in the mag’s 2013 Photo Issue.

The franchise we typically use to celebrate interviews we love that we didn’t conduct ourselves is called “5 Things We Learned,” but in this case, there was absolutely NO way we would be able to narrow this down to just 5 things. The banter between Westbrook and Alipour is DRIPPING with innumerable nuggets of precious Westbrook history and trivia: how he almost went to Stanford University for academics alone, how sometimes he bowls by himself, how and why he loves math, and the reveal that he has over 100 pairs of glasses (though, that shouldn’t come as that huge a surprise all things considered). But trust me, it gets SO. MUCH. BETTER.

Russell Westbrook for “ESPN” magazine’s Photo Issue.
Photo: ESPN

1.) Kevin Durant calls Russell “Sasha Fierce”: “First, a bit about Westbrook, the style icon. For the cover story of our Photo Issue, The Mag aimed to run a spread with a fashion-forward athlete who also happens to play a sport pretty well. Enter the NBA’s freshest- and, at times, wackiest-dressed employee, a man Kevin Durant likens to Beyonce’s alter-ego. ’Oh, he’s a diva,’ says Westbrook’s co-star for the Thunder. ’I call him Sasha Fierce. On the court, he’s a fierce competitor. Off the court, he’s chilling in front of the mirror, making sure he got the right lip balm on.'”

2.) Westbrook doesn’t use a stylist: “I do a lot of shopping online. I know people in LA, New York, everywhere. On road trips I’ll go to the mall on my own or sometimes with our security guy, [Mike] Flash. I like Zara, Barneys, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges from the U.K. Nordstrom, sometimes. I do a lot of bargain shopping at outlets, too, high end and low end…[F]or some reason my eyes shift toward them when I’m shopping. It catches my eye. That’s probably why I like it. If I see a black shirt and then I see a polka-dotted black shirt, I’m going with that one.”

3.) But he lets his mom chime in sometimes: “I ask my mom. She knows what’s up. Before a game, I’ll walk over to her and she’ll tell me no or yeah or to change my shoes. Or, if she’s not in town, I’ll text her a picture.”

4.) Russell would HATE living with me: “Naw, there ain’t no hair at my place, I promise you that. But, you know, if there’s hair around, I can’t handle that. If I find somebody’s hair laying on me, I’ll lose it.”

5.) For Russ in high school, the saying was more like “CLOTHES before [insert derogatory word the rhymes with ’snows’]”: “[W]hat dance was that? Oh, winter formal, halfway through my senior year. I wore pinstripes, brown, with brown shoes and shirt. I didn’t have a date to that one — that’s how clean I thought I was. [Laughs.] I didn’t want a girl to mess me up.”

6.) Westbrook is a fan of jorts (jean shorts) and has been since college: “I liked dressing up for class in the mornings. History of Rap, of Jazz, the classes I enjoyed, I dressed up for those. I wore jean shorts or cargo shorts, with my Air Force Ones and a few different button-ups. For college, that’s pretty dressed up […] I have jean shorts even now.”

7.) Shoes make the man, but maybe stay away from Timbs: “Shoes make an outfit. You can throw on a crazy shirt and crazy pants but you add those shoes — done. I actually have a closet that’s all shoes, maybe 700 pairs. Got my Jordans and lots of dress shoes. I don’t have a favorite. I’ll wear anything. […] I wouldn’t wear your shoes. [He laughs at my Timberland boots. And now I want a refund.]”

8.) Russell sometimes acts as a kind of style consultant for his teammates: “Honestly, my teammates even ask me where I got my stuff from. I try to help out the younger guys on the team with their nonsense. Like, Jeremy Lamb, one of our rookies, he used to wear these slip-on, slide-in shoes with nice pants and a shirt, so I told him to switch the shoes to maybe some nice wing-tips.”


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