Russell Westbrook on Being the King of NBA Style

6 minute read

In the past year, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook not only nabbed the highly-coveted league MVP award but he also made history when he broke Oscar Robinson’s record for most triple-doubles in a season. But his moves weren’t just on the basketball court; Westbrook has been staying busy racking up accolades off the court as well. He’s long been acknowledged as the “king of NBA style,” thanks to his fearless fashion sense; for example, not many can — or will — wear the avant garde ensembles that Russ sports to the post-game pressers (think loudly patterned shirts, cropped trousers and dramatic accessories) but Russ does and wears it with the same kind of aplomb that’s singled him out as one of the most intense players of his generation.

His sense of style earned him the title of “Most Fashionable Athlete” of 2017 from Sports Illustrated , which is why it should come as no surprise that Westbrook is commemorating his own sartorial creativity with a project of his own: a Rizzoli coffee table book titled: Russell Westbrook: Style Drivers. The book is a collection of Westbrook’s most memorable looks (and there have been plenty of them) and quotes that speak to self-expression that come from sources as varied as DJ Khaled to designers like Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne.

TIME sat down with Westbrook to talk personal style, a future fashion line, and saying “why not?” to life. See 12 of his most memorable style statements above.

TIME: When did you start taking an interest in your personal style?

Russell Westbrook: Definitely early on for me. When I was younger, I was into fashion but I wasn’t always able to afford and have the platform to express myself and do different things that I’m able to do now. I feel blessed to be at the stage in my career where certain doors are open to me in fashion, like this book.

What inspired you to create this book, Style Drivers?

To me, style is very, very important because it can cross so many different lanes. In the book, we talk to many different people, from all aspects, whether it’s people in fashion, sports, or different designers. I think it’s important to see how in everything, fashion relates to people across the board.

I think that’s one of the things that interests me about you. You’re a basketball star, but I hear just as much about your outfits as I do your triple doubles. Do you think one informs the other?

Basketball is the axis that allows me to do the things that I do. I have so much love for the game and it gives me to the option to be able to jump into fashion. I really love that they’re both different ways to express yourself; basketball is one way to express yourself, as is what you wear.

Do you have any personal style icons that inspire your fashion?

Yeah, my mom. My mom, from day 1, dressed me, my brother, my dad, kept us up to par on everything that was going on in the fashion world. To this day, she’s always fresher than me every time I see her. She’s who I look up to when it comes to style.

The 2017 ESPYS - Red Carpet
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12: NBA player Russell Westbrook attends The 2017 ESPYS at [f500link]Microsoft[/f500link] Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)Kevin Mazur—Getty Images

You’ve had some pretty bold looks over the years. Do you have any fashion statements that you’ve regretted making?

No, I do not. You gotta own it. My motto is “Why not?” That’s how I think, that’s how I do everything, my lifestyle. That’s how I go about pretty much everything. It is what it is.

Fashion month is coming up. More and more athletes go now, do you think you started this trend?

Well, I’ll let you answer that one. I definitely wasn’t the first athlete to go to a show, but I do believe it’s more popular now. I do it for a different reason though, I’m looking at it like business. I’m interested in the different designers that are showing, trying to find ways to improve my knowledge in fashion, meet different people and different influencers.

Are we going to see any more from you in fashion, do you have any new ventures?

For sure, for sure! I’ll have my own line pretty soon, just trying to work on that. There’s definitely some things coming.

Do you have a stylist?

No — it’s not worth the money!

I also heard that you wear each outfit once and then give it away. Is that true?

I do. I mean, I keep some jeans and stuff, like pants, but my shirts and stuff, I’ll give away to my friends, Goodwill; whoever wants it, honestly, and that’s what happens.

It’s been a big year for you, you won MVP, and you also welcomed a son. Do you think fatherhood has changed you at all?

I think fatherhood would change anybody when you have your first son. It’s been amazing.

Street Style - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2018 : Day Four
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 24: Russell Westbrook outside Sacai during Paris Fashion Week Menswear Spring/Summer 2018 Day Four on June 24, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)Christian Vierig—Getty Images

Do you think your pre-game fashion affects your performance in the game?

For me, it’s not about really great outfits. It’s just who I am. I always want to make sure that people understand that. I’m not getting dressed to make a scene or like ‘Oh, look what Westbrook has on today!’ If I like something, I’ll put it on, I go to the game, that’s how it is. The basketball stuff is not affected by that. I’m gonna do that no matter what I wear. For me, it’s not a game.

So last year, when you wore that photographer’s vest before a game and people on the Internet had a lot to say about it, it wasn’t some kind of hidden message? [During the 2016-2017 NBA season, Westbrook showed up wearing a vest with the words “official photographer” to his first game against his former teammate Kevin Durant, and some NBA fans speculated Westbrook was trolling Durant, who has a noted photography hobby.]

I mean, like I said before, I make no messages or side notes. If I want to say something to somebody or do anything, they’ll know I’m doing it. I’m not the one to make statements like that. But I wear what I want. That’s it.

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder – Game One
David Sherman—NBAE/Getty Images
"Entourage" - Los Angeles Premiere
Jon Kopaloff—FilmMagic
Rag & Bone Women's Collection - Front Row & Backstage- Spring 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Paul Morigi—WireImage
Oklahoma City Thunder v LA Clippers
Andrew D. Bernstein—NBAE/Getty Images
Richard Chai -- Love - After Party - Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Jerritt Clark—WireImage
Celebrity Sightings - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2018 : Day Four
Edward Berthelot—GC Images
Louis Vuitton : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Spring/Summer 2018
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff—WireImage for Louis Vuitton
Givenchy : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2016
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff—Getty Images
Sports Illustrated 2017 Fashionable 50 Celebration
Michael Kovac—Getty Images for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Givenchy : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear S/S 2015
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff—2014 Bertrand Rindoff Petroff

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Cady Lang at