Kobe Bryant: Russell Westbrook Is ‘The Most Athletic Player I’ve Ever Played’

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

There's a reason Kobe Bryant calls Russell Westbrook "the most athletic player I've ever played against."

And it might have something to do with the speed in which he accumulates triple-doubles.

Against Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard got to double digits in points, assists, and rebounds in under 18 minutes, the fastest triple-double in over 60 years.

This gives him the second, third, and fourth fastest triple-doubles in NBA history.

While his play has garnered him the respect of one Lakers legend, Westbrook's performance on Monday tied him with another. The point guard's triple-double gave him 18 on the season, tying him with Magic Johnson for the most in almost 50 years.

Neither approaches Oscar Robertson's 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62, though when one adjusts for pace, even the Big O's average stat line doesn't come close to Westbrook's.

Westbrook was only needed for 28 minutes of action in the 112-79 victory, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists.

"I haven't seen anybody get triple-doubles as much as he has in a season," Bryant said. "That's pretty outrageous, what he's been able to do all year long. It seems to fly under the radar with what Steph (Curry) is doing at Golden State and what they're doing as a team, but he's having a historical season. He's probably the most athletic player I've ever played against."

The Lakers superstar, who's one game away from retirement, pointed out similarities between him and Westbrook and the two faced off for the last time.

"I didn't smile much on the court, either," he said. "He plays the game with such an energy and such aggressiveness. It needs to be appreciated."

Westbrook relished the opportunity to play against someone he watched as a young Los Angeles native.

"It was very special for me, man," Westbrook said. "Growing up in L.A., a young boy watching the Lakers and watching him kind of take over the town, and to be here now, in the NBA, being a part of his last (road) game is something special to me. It's a blessing. It's something I never take for granted."

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