Westbrook pays tribute to 'mentor and brother' Bryant after helping Rockets down Lakers
Russell Westbrook paid tribute to "mentor, friend and brother" Kobe Bryant after inspiring the Houston Rockets to victory at the Los Angeles Lakers.
NBA great Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Lakers, and his teenage daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash last month.
Westbrook grew up in California and put up 41 points as the Rockets ran out 121-111 winners at Staples Center on Thursday.
Speaking to TNT post-game, Westbrook dedicated his performance to Bryant.
"Man, it's a blessing. I don't take this game for granted," Westbrook said.
"Kobe was a mentor, a friend, a brother to me and every time I step on this floor it's definitely going out to him.
"Every night I step on the floor, I keep him and his family in my thoughts."
Westbrook highlights are— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 7, 2020
LeBron James contributed 18 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds in the Lakers' losing effort and he believes Westbrook, now 31, has mixed pace and strength with smarter play.
"Of course [his pace and strength are still there], and [he's] smarter - that's what it's all about," James told reporters.
"We can continue to get older and age in this game, but we continue to get smarter.
"Russ is a much more complete basketball player right now, he has the ability to use speed and strength but also do things with his brain which helps out a lot."Published 07 Feb 2020, 13:36 IST