Fans Line Up to Meet Westbrook

The line of people waiting for the chance to meet Russell Westbrook on Saturday appeared endless, at least from the table where the Thunder point guard was sitting.

Behind him were 2,500 Perry Ellis basketballs and boxes of color pictures of Westbrook, all to be signed by the man himself. Westbrook handled that challenge like he handles a trapping defense on the court -- with no trouble. With an arsenal of black Sharpie pens at his disposal, and a smile that made teenage girls blush, Westbrook made a day of memories for those in the long line who waited to see him at Dillard's inside Penn Square Mall.

Fans who purchased $50 of Perry Ellis merchandise received a complimentary basketball and photo for Westbrook to sign, which he did. He also posed for hundreds of pictures, answered a series of questions and listened to stories about how the Thunder has become such an integral part of everyday life in Oklahoma.

One woman recovering from knee replacement surgery let Westbrook know she made the effort to get to the store just to see him. "Please don't get hurt," she said. "You go up there with all those big guys and it worries me."

A short time later, a boy wearing a youth basketball league jersey approached Westbrook, turned to show him his number and proudly said: "I have your number." Westbrook didn't miss a beat. "No, I have your number. I wear zero, too."

Two teenage girls were next, and they could barely contain their excitement. They told him they follow him on the Internet and followed that with, "We're like your biggest fans." As they excited the line, Westbrook had a Thunder representative bring them back to the table, where pulled off his orange rubber wristband and gave it to one of the girls. "Are you kidding!?! Oh my gosh."

It was a day of connections for fans, and their first chance to see Westbrook since the final game of the Thunder's 2009-10 season was played on April 30. It was also their time to ask questions.

Q. What do you like to do for fun in the offseason?
A. Go bowling.

Q. What is your training schedule in the offseason?
A. I work out in the morning, then lift, and work out again later that night.

Q. Who was your hero as a child?
A. My parents. I looked up to them more than anybody.

Q. What do you think of the weather in Oklahoma?
A. Hot, hot, hot, hot.

There were many more, touching on subjects like favorite food and drink (hamburgers and fries, and lemonade), to why he wears number 0 (Nick Collison had No. 4; 0 signals a new start) to his favorite player of all-time (Magic Johnson). Westbrook answered them all.

Afterward, he met with media members and covered a number of topics: Yes he is watching the NBA Finals, but is watching to learn ways to improve his game; no, his house did not get any hail damage; he is looking forward to training camp with Team USA in July in Las Vegas, calling it a "great honor" to be included in the mix of players; no, he's not paying attention to who's in and who's out of Team USA picture, instead putting his focus on trying to make the team regardless of who is there; and he is continuing to push himself hard in the offseason and wants to make a "jump" in his development.

Westbrook then spoke about the death of UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Westbrook talked briefly about meeting the legendary coach during his freshman year in Westwood, and how the two spoke on several occasions."He was just an amazing man," Westbrook said. "Coaching, speaking, his knowledge of the game. ... Sitting down with him, it's amazing just how much knows. He was a great man."