Westbrook, Rose: Good Friends Off Court, Competitors On It

Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose have worked out together every summer since they entered the league in 2008.

They share the same agent, same offseason trainer and same interests.

When the Thunder tips off the regular season against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, they’ll share the same court for the first time since teaming to help Team USA capture gold at the FIBA World Championship. But this time, their friendship will be put on hold for a few hours.

“I know I’m going to come out and compete and I know he’s going to come out and play hard,” Westbrook said.

Added Rose: “We’re friends off the court but on the court, I’m trying to (beat) you. When you’re on the court against someone you’re trying to do better than them.”

Both entering their third season, Westbrook and Rose have continued to develop into two of the league’s most exciting young point guards. While Westbrook and Rose are very much a part of each other’s offseason routine and consider one another to have played a role in the other’s development, both have said they’re trying to carve their own path in a league full of talented floor generals.

And Westbrook downplayed any matchup he might have with Rose on Wednesday, and instead emphasized that his focus remains on helping his team.

“I wouldn’t call it a rivalry,” he said. “I would just say that both guards are trying to make their teams better. Once you make your team look better and it gets better, that helps you out.”

Westbrook and Rose knew each other prior to the 2008 NBA Draft, when Rose was selected first overall and Westbrook was chosen fourth. They started to forge a friendship not long after they joined the same agency.

Every offseason since that draft, Westbrook and Rose have spent many a summer month practicing and training with and against each other at the Santa Monica High School gymnasium. The two point guards worked feverishly on their conditioning and basketball skills. The workouts consist of a lot of shooting drills. Westbrook said he’s picked up some of Rose’s ball handling techniques and layup trickery. Rose credited Westbrook for helping him become a better shooter.

Both players described their workouts in a word: tough.

“It’s tough,” Westbrook said. “It’s hard work. We both come in every day, get shots and just go hard. We push each other and try to make each other better.”

Added Rose: “Tough; a lot of one-on-one drills, a lot of shooting. We’ve had other guys come in like O.J. (Mayo), and Tyreke (Evans). This summer was great.”

This summer was the busiest for Westbrook and Rose, who along with forward Kevin Durant spent a majority of the offseason training and competing with USA Basketball.

During their nearly four-week journey overseas for the World Championship, Rose said that he and Westbrook spent a lot of time together off the court, whether they were shopping, dining out and sightseeing or playing video games and catching college football games back at the team hotel.

“He’s just a real cool guy, likes to have fun,” Westbrook said of his counterpart. “He’s a jokester.”

But the jokes will cease come tip-off. Both are interested to see how all that hard work in the offseason pays off.

“It’s going to be real tough to guard him,” Rose said, “so it should be an interesting matchup.”

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