Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook made history in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night – scoring 20 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and recording 20 assists – while his mind was also on the late Nipsey Hussle, the rapper who was gunned down in front of his store earlier this week.
Westbrook, who became the second player in NBA history to accomplish the totals, alongside Wilt Chamberlain, said his performance was dedicated to the rapper and business mogul. Both Westbrook and Hussle were from the Los Angeles area.
“Grateful to play the game, but that wasn't for me, man. That was for my bro, man. That was for Nipsey,” Westbrook said on TNT after the game, according to ESPN. “Rest in peace to Nipsey, man. I'm just thankful to go out there and compete at a high level, man. Thankful to have these teammates. Thankful and humbled to go out there and play the game I love.”
Westbrook grabbed the final two rebounds with just over a minute to play in the game. He waved off Hamidou Diallo who was set to sub in for him at the end of the 119-103 win.
“He came over and talked to me about it, and I knew he had a close friend pass away, and he had mentioned and explained that to me,” coach Billy Donavan told reporters. “I think for a few guys on our team, relationship-wise, this kind of hit them pretty hard the last couple days, just talking to them. But I think for Russell, that was something that really meant a lot to him, and he basically talked to me a little bit about it after the game.”
Paul George, who is also an LA-area kid, called his teammate’s performance “epic.”
The effect Hussle had on Westbrook was seen even before the game. Westbrook wore a shirt with the word “Crenshaw” -- Hussle's brand -- scrawled across the front. Westbrook received praise from rappers YG, Chevy Woods and 2 Chainz on Instagram as well.
Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was shot and killed outside his retail store in South Los Angeles on Sunday. Los Angeles police arrested suspect Eric Holder on Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.