Russell Westbrook Blew Off Meeting Michael Jordan as a Kid to Play a Pick-Up Basketball Game
"I wasn't thinking at the time, I was just a little kid having so much fun," Russell Westbrook said
The 31-year-old NBA star explained on Jimmy Fallon‘s at home-edition of the Tonight Show Tuesday that he nearly met Jordan, 57, as a child.
“The first time I had an opportunity to meet Michael Jordan, I was probably about, I would say 10 or 11, maybe,” Westbrook recalled. “My parents sent me to Michael Jordan Camp in Santa Barbra. At the end of Michael Jordan camps, usually every kid — every team — you need to bring something for Michael Jordan [to] sign, you need to stand in line, you need to be ready to go.”
“When my team was up to get a basketball signed, I don’t know what I was thinking, but when it was my time to go, I was in the middle of a game,” the athlete explained. “I was playing pick-up with other kids. And then my coach was like ‘Come on, come on, come on. You’re gonna miss your opportunity to get a picture with Michael Jordan and an autograph from Michael Jordan.’ ”
However, Westbrook did not take the opportunity, thus squashing his chances at meeting Jordan.
“I said, ‘Ehh, don’t worry I’m okay. I don’t need it right now,’ ” he recalled. “So I didn’t get a picture with Michael Jordan, didn’t get an autograph from Michael Jordan. I literally didn’t get in line. I kept playing basketball and just kept hooping.”
Westbrook continued: “When basketball was over, I got home, my mom and dad was like, ‘Did you get the ball signed?’ And I literally was just like, ‘No I didn’t. I was playing a pick-up game.’ At the time, it didn’t click to me. So that’s my intro to my Michael Jordan story.”
The NBA All-Star admitted that he “definitely cared” after missing his opportunity to meet Jordan. “I wasn’t thinking at the time, I was just a little kid having so much fun.”
“It was like, ‘It’s time to get your thing signed by Michael Jordan.’ I was like ‘Ah, I can do it later.’ And then never did,’ ” Westbrook said. “Now, I have a legitimate chance and I can tell him the same story.”
Jordan and Westbrook have since met.
Westbrook also said he’s watched the first two episodes of The Last Dance, a new HBO docuseries that offers an intimate look at Jordan and the key players of the 1997-1998 Bulls.
“Such great insight,” Westbrook said of the docuseries. “It’s such a great start to a great documentary. I’m excited to see what next week brings.”
The first two parts of The Last Dance, which premiered on Sunday, scored more than 6 million viewers, making it the most watched docuseries in ESPN history, CNN Reported.