By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook underwent successful surgery Saturday to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in Vail, Colo. at the Steadman Clinic.
However, the all-star guard’s season has come to an end, according to Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.
“Although we are of course disappointed that Russell will be unable to return to the floor with his teammates this season, the opportunity to repair the meniscus as opposed to remove it was the best possible scenario for Russell’s long term health as a player and a person,” Presti said. “Russell’s health and well being are obviously our number one priority through this process and today’s procedure helped solidify our belief that Russell will have many productive years of basketball in his future.”
Presti says Westbrook’s meniscus was repaired rather than removed, which means it’s able to remain fully intact. But that takes away any chances of a quick turnaround as in past cases such as Metta World Peace when he returned in 13 days from the same injury.
“It was the best possible situation walking into the procedure,” Presti said. “When you take the pragmatic perspective, and understand what’s really, truly important in this situation, you have to be really satisfied with the results of the surgery today.”
Westbrook suffered the injury Wednesday in the second quarter of Game 2 of the First Round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
More than likely it took place in the second quarter when Westbrook was dribbling across mid-court toward the Oklahoma City bench with the intentions of calling a time-out. Normally players allow this to happen without much interference. This time Houston rookie Patrick Beverley lunged in front of Westbrook to go for a quick steal, causing the two to bang knees.
Westbrook ended up finishing the game and scoring 29 points in the 105-102 victory. That will be the final game for him in the 2012-13 season.
The three-time NBA All-Star averaged 23.2 points (6th in NBA), 7.4 assists (7th), a career-high 5.2 rebounds and 1.77 steals (9th) in 82 games this past season.
“As far as a time frame for when he will return to the floor, he is actually starting his rehabilitation today,” Presti said. “As we get deeper into the process, we will be able to prove a more accurate timetable as to when he will be back on the floor. We are very confident in Russell’s ability to do well in this rehab. We know he will be back on the floor relatively soon.”
The Thunder dispatched the Rockets 104-101 in Game 3. Even without Westbrook, Presti is confident in his team.
“I don’t think we are having to rally in any sense,” Presti said. “I think the mentality of the group is in place. It’s part of who we are. “It’s not about one person or one game. But it never is with us. It’s always going to be about the collective, about the process of coming together and adjusting. This is one of the reasons we seek out high-character individuals as players for our team because these are the type of adversities that exist in pro sports.”
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