For most that make it to the NBA, the ultimate goal is to win a championship, the pinnacle achievement in the sport. It’s what often leads to veterans signing one-year minimum deals to chase rings, yearning for that sense of accomplishment that they had not yet experienced.
Russell Westbrook, one of the most enigmatic figures in the league throughout his career, is without one of those rings as he enters the latter stages of his career. Many view his current stop in his home of Los Angeles, his fourth team in as many years, as one of his last real chances at winning a title.
However, despite how important that accomplishment is to most, Westbrook doesn’t view winning a ring on the same level some others do. In a piece by Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, Westbrook said there are things that are a lot more important to him:
Even if this doesn’t work and the Lakers don’t win another title, you need to understand that this, at least in Westbrook’s eyes, already has worked.
He’s achieved unthinkable wealth and success with his family by his side and his faith in God fortified.
“I can name you a lot of people who have rings. And what does that mean?” Westbrook said. “… My thing is like, the ring is great but what you do with this platform to help impact other people is way more important than your ring. To me. That’s why it doesn’t really matter.”
Westbrook’s off-court work has been well-documented, and as abundant as his triple-doubles on the court during his career. Just last season, Westbrook was one of 10 finalists for the 2020-21 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his work in the Washington community despite only just arriving to the city and franchise during the offseason.
His Why Not? Foundation has helped set up the LA Promise Fund, Code.Chella, Comp-U-Dopt and LA Conservation Corps, all in the Los Angeles area. Westbrook partnered with Jordan Brand to revitalize the Crenshaw Family YMCA. And as he said in the L.A. Times piece, Westbrook has placed a high value on using his platform to make a difference.
Obviously, Westbrook has not sacrificed anything on the court to make his impact off the court, as evidenced by his string of triple-double seasons over the last five years as well as the number of All-Star and All-NBA appearances. But regardless if this season ends in a championship parade or not, though, Westbrook has already found success during his career. He may also be clearly motivated to win a title, but he has already found greater fulfillment than any career achievements can provide. In the end, isn’t that what we all should strive for?