A history of Russell Westbrook's many knee surgeries


After back-to-back seasons averaging a triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Mr. Do It All, Russell Westbrook will undergo a minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He is expected to be re-evaluated in four weeks, so he’ll miss some, if not all of the preseason before his return to the court.

With the exception of LeBron James, no NBA player has carried a heavier load than Westbrook since Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors two summers ago. His usage rate of 33.2 ranked higher than any player who spent more than 2600 minutes on the floor last season, James, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo included.

Over time, that on-court mileage may be taking a toll on the joints he needs intact to be effective. This isn’t anything new, though. Actually, it’s the fourth or fifth procedure he’s had on his right knee, depending on whose report you read.

April 24, 2013 — The first injury

It was Game 2 of the first round of the 2013 Western Conference playoffs, and Westbrook was dribbling toward the sidelines while coach Scott Brooks gestured for a timeout. But Patrick Beverley darted for the ball and slammed into Westbrook’s right knee in doing so.

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Westbrook underwent an MRI that revealed a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was forced to undergo surgery, one that sidelined him for the remainder of the playoffs and most of the summer.

Oct. 1, 2013 — Another one

Out of left field, the Thunder announced Westbrook would undergo a second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The surgery, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick, was necessary after a loose stitch in his knee caused it to swell. Westbrook was expected to miss training camp, preseason and the first four-to-six weeks of the regular season.

He returned ahead of schedule, missing only five days of the opening week.

Dec. 27, 2013 — “Increased swelling”

Westbrook returned for the third game of the following regular season and worked his way back into game shape. He played 25 games to start his year.

But after a triple double in a Christmas Day win against the Knicks, something wasn’t right. The Thunder announced Westbrook had undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

“Russell has been playing pain free, but recently had experienced increased swelling,” Thunder president Sam Presti said in a statement. “After consultation and consideration by his surgeon in Los Angeles, a plan was established to monitor the swelling that included a series of scheduled MRIs. On the most recent MRI it was determined by the surgeon that there was an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures, and it was necessary to evaluate Russell further.”

Westbrook missed the next 28 games, but recovered to average 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game in the playoffs.

Sept. 22, 2017 — What’s a PRP?

Ahead of the 2017-18 season, Russell Westbrook received a PRP injection in one of his knees, though there are competing reports as to which knee the procedure occurred. The NBA’s global website says left knee, but ESPN’s Royce Young says right knee.

A PRP is short for “platelet rich plasma,” a method that includes drawing blood and spinning that blood down to create new blood with a higher concentration of plasma. That high concentration of plasma helps muscles, tendons and ligaments heal faster.

Other NBA players to receive a PRP injection include John Wall, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ian Mahinmi.

Thunder GM Sam Presti said the injection was “nothing serious.” Westbrook missed the start of training camp but played in 80 games last season.


The good news for Thunder fans is Westbrook has played in at least 80 games in each of the past three seasons. Wednesday’s knee scope is viewed as a preventative measure. He should be able to bounce back and be as productive as we’re accustomed to seeing him.

But it is a reminder of the load he’s has had to carry, and the battery that’s taken over the course of his career.

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