Russell Westbook walked off the court Tuesday night pounding his chest and emphatically shouting to the crowd, "That's for Nipsey!"
The Oklahoma City Thunder and former UCLA star had just posted the second 20-20-20 game in NBA history. That's an astounding 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 assists in his team's 119-103 win over the Lakers.
In a post-game interview with TNT, Westbrook said he dedicated the game to slain rapper and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle, shot and killed Sunday outside his clothing store in the Hyde Park area of Los Angeles. Westbook was born in Long Beach and grew up in Hawthorne, attending Leuzinger High School in Lawndale.
"Grateful to play the game, but that wasn't for me, man. That was for my bro, man. That was for Nipsey," Westbrook said on the TNT broadcast. "Rest in peace to Nipsey, man. I'm just thankful to go out there and compete at a high level, man. Thankful to have these teammates. Thankful and humbled to go out there and play the game I love."
Hussle also was remembered in the Lakers locker room, where the 33-year-old rapper's music was played. After his shooting death Sunday, many NBA players tweeted condolences to a man who was part of revitalization and education projects in his South Los Angeles community.
Los Angeles police announced an arrest Tuesday in the shooting, news of which drew hundreds of people to Hussle Marathon clothing store. Candles, flowers, messages and other items have been left there by mourners.
Westbrook's historic moment came with the outcome all but decided and just over a minute remaining. Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan wanted to get his star out of Tuesday's game, but Westbrook waved off sub Hamidou Diallo, then grabbed a rebound.
He joined elite NBA company when he had another rebound on the next possession.
"I'm not going to try to put it into words but like I said on the floor, that's who it's for," Westbrook said. "I'm going to leave it at that."
NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to achieve a triple-double. He set the lofty mark with 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in a 1968 game.
Westbrook also tied Chamberlain for second all-time in 15-point, 15-rebound, 15-assists games with eight. Oscar Robertson had 14 such games in his career.
The loss was Los Angeles' second in the last six games despite playing with a roster missing its stars, including LeBron James.