HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets officially introduced their big off-season acquisition, guard Russell Westbrook, at a Friday afternoon news conference and he wasted no time setting championship expectations.
The team traded Chris Paul for Westbrook earlier this month to reunite him with his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, James Harden.
Rockets general manager thanked Paul who he said was a "great warrior" for us, but that in order to get a great player, you have to give up someone great.
"Any time a team has added two MVPs to their team, in the last couple of years, it's worked out pretty well," Morey said.
Harden and Westbrook have been friends for about 20 years, going back to their time growing up in Los Angeles.
"To be able to win something, you have to be able to sacrifice some parts of your game and we both understand that. We both understand that we have one common goal and that's to win a championship," Westbrook said when asked about sharing the ball with Harden. "I don't have to touch the ball to impact the game... I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance of winning."
Westbrook and James Harden played together for three seasons in Oklahoma City. In their final season together with the Thunder, they advanced to the NBA Finals, losing to the Miami Heat. It’s the only trip to the NBA finals for each player.
"Our one goal is to win a championship," Westbrook said.
He said it's an amazing opportunity to be able to play with Harden again.
"We play great off the ball with each other. We've done it in OKC," Westbrook said.
He raved about the organization, the players, the front office and head coach Mike D'Antoni.
"I think it's a great opportunity to be able to bring a championship here to Houston. An opportunity to do great things, have some fun and I'm excited for it," he said.
When asked what he thought about Houston, Westbrook quipped, "It's hot as hell!"
Then Morey chimed in, "For any free agents out there, it's 75 degrees during the season. Summer's a little hot."
Westbrook will wear jersey number 0.
Westbrook is a former NBA MVP winner (2016-17) and has posted three consecutive seasons of averaging a triple-double.
He’s an eight-time All-Star and an eight-time All-NBA selection. He made third Team All-NBA last season, after making the first or second team in each of his previous seven seasons.
Westbrook is also somewhat of a fashion hound with his classy outfits. Read more about Westbrook's looks here.
Here are four takeaways from the press conference, according to KPRC2 sports reporter Lainie Fritz:
1. Wants to win a championship
If there's one major takeaway from Friday's press conference, Westbrook fully expects to win a championship with the Rockets. The word championship was mentioned on several occasions and he made it clear that the pursuit of that was his reason for coming to Houston.
2. Willing to sacrifice
The second news broke of Westbrook joining forces with his old buddy James Harden the reaction was skepticism. The doubt about these two playing together again wasn't about their undeniable talent but rather about the concern of who would be the primary ball handler and how would they each play their game to their full potential with just one basketball on the court. Westbrook shut that narrative down immediately Friday by saying that he was totally fine with not being the primary ball handler and explaining that he can make an impact offensively without that role.
3. Good fit with Mike D'Antoni's system
Obviously as one of the most talented and athletic players in the NBA, Westbrook is capable of playing in any system but he is very excited about jumping into the Rockets' style of play. "I fit right in. It gives me a good opportunity to attack, penetrate, kick. I think the style of play is great and something I'm looking forward to."
4. Weather will be an adjustment
"It's hot as hell, I can tell you that," was Westbrook's response when asked his initial thoughts on the city of Houston. After an eruption of laughter from the media following that response, he went on to tell about his excitement of being in a big city, "It's been great getting acclimated. I'm looking forward to it. I grew up in LA in a big city but playing in one is definitely different but something I look forward to and it's exciting."