ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the NBA’s most dynamic players on the floor. Now he’s showing he can be just as impactful off the court. Westbrook has always spoken highly of UCLA, where he played two seasons of college ball before being drafted by the Thunder in 2008. Today the school announced that Westbrook had agreed to donate the largest amount of money any former basketball player had ever given to UCLA.
The UCLA Athletic Department is pleased to announce a significant financial contribution from NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook to its Mo Ostin Basketball Center project – the largest by a former basketball student-athlete in school history. In honor of Russell’s gift, the UCLA Men’s Basketball practice floor inside the program’s new state-of-the-art facility will be known moving forward as Russell Westbrook Court.
UCLA will formally recognize Russell’s generosity and welcome him back to Pauley Pavilion when the Bruins face the Arizona Wildcats on January 7. Russell, along with wife Nina (Earl) Westbrook – a former UCLA women’s basketball student-athlete – and parents Russell and Shannon Westbrook, will be sitting courtside and honored at the Bruins’ Pac-12 Conference home opener. Additionally, to commemorate the evening, all fans in attendance will receive complimentary eyeglass frames, a trademark of Russell’s at post-game NBA press conferences, courtesy of Wescom.
“Russell isn’t merely a dominant force in the NBA, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the community as well,” said Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. “While his Why Not? Foundation’s mission is to inspire the lives of children and teach them to never give up, the fact of the matter is, having witnessed firsthand and from afar his growth over the years, Russell himself is an inspiration. We could not be more proud of his leadership both on and off the court since he left Westwood, and I know the Bruin faithful will be excited to welcome him back home next month and thank him for this tremendous gift.”
Westbrook, who played in all 75 games during his two-year career at UCLA, helped lead the Bruins to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2007 and 2008, averaged 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a sophomore before being selected by the Seattle Supersonics with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Named to the 2008 Pac-10 All-Tournament Team following UCLA’s victory over Stanford in the conference championship game, the Leuzinger HS (Lawndale) alum led the Bruins to a 35-4 overall record, regular season Pac-10 title and the school’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament since 1995.
“I loved my time at UCLA and jumped at the opportunity to give back to the University that provided me with amazing opportunities and great memories,” said Westbrook. “I am truly honored to be part of the legacy that is Bruin basketball.”