On Thursday, Russell Westbrook gave an impassioned speech after being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Westbrook was introduced by Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who praised Westbrook’s loyalty to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“He could’ve easily come to Charlotte,” Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, joked, ESPN reports. “But he decided to stay here in Oklahoma. I’m not here to try and bash anybody that’s not here. Everybody has a choice. I’m not saying everybody doesn’t have a choice. But when I saw he chose to stay in Oklahoma, I was so proud, and as Clay [Bennett] knows and Russ know, I texted him to show a sense of respect.”
Westbrook thanked his family, friends and the people of Oklahoma before using the rest of his speech to call for healing during this troubled election month.
Below is a transcript of Westbrook’s speech:
First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for this unbelievable opportunity. Without him I wouldn’t be here, wouldn’t be sharing this moment with you guys. I want to thank my unbelievable family, first my lovely wife. She’s been a true blessing for me. So grateful for her. My lovely parents, as always, been very consistent with me and always having my back. And then my little big brother, which I call him, because he’s always looking after me, looking forward and helping me out with different things. So I appreciate you guys, so thank you.
Lastly, I want to thank Michael for him coming out here to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and being able to do this is very special to me. I’m truly blessed for you to do that, and I’m thankful for him as well.
I don’t know how to read off a teleprompter, so I got this piece of paper. So just bear with me as I flip through.
I’m honored and humbled to be considered for such an amazing accomplishment. After witnessing the divisions and the challenges of our nation we have been facing for the past several months, I’ve realized this honor’s not about me nor (is it) about the people in this room.
Oklahoma is an unbelievable community. I’m so appreciative of the fact that the people of Oklahoma have been so supportive of welcoming my family and I. However, I feel there’s always room to grow. I can be better, you can be better and we can be better together. I’m honored to be a part of this Hall of Fame, but I am one of few. Our state is made up of unbelievably talented individuals, and I look forward to celebrating them, no matter their race, gender or creed.
I accept this award for all the young kids who are told—because of the color of their skin or where they come from or what talents they don’t have—they somehow can’t achieve. I pledge to continue my work and hope to instill the importance of learning the love of reading for young people through my Why Not? Foundation.
So this evening, I challenge each of you to join me in being productive citizens seeking to bring hope and healing to every community. Regardless of our backgrounds and our upbringing, we can work together to impact lives of every young person in this state and across this nation. Thank you very much.
Read more at ESPN.