Alex Abrines Says Russell Westbrook Supported Him Through Mental Health Issues

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 22, 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 01:  Russell Westbrook #0 talks to teammate Alex Abrines #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on November 1, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Former Oklahoma City Thunder guard/forward Alex Abrines credited ex-teammate Russell Westbrook with supporting him last season as he worked to improve his mental health.

Abrines told Basket en Movistar (h/t Alex Madrid of Eurohoops, via Kurt Helin of NBC Sports):

"He's a very nice guy. He helped me a lot especially in the first year. In most of our trips we did something together, watch a movie, have dinner. When I went through all this and did not travel with the team, he kept in touch. He asked me to meet him for dinner. He cared for the person beyond the player. He calmly told me what I should do noting that he would support me if I decided to leave."

Abrines also discussed his mental health issues, which led to him stepping away from the team during last season:

"It is a different kind of pain. Physical pain is something you can see and feel. Mental pain can not be observed and can not be treated like an injured knee for example. If you don't go through something similar, you can't realize it. In the end of the day, money is not above everything. Until it happens, you don't realize that you don't give a s--t about money."

Numerous NBA players have opened up about their mental health over the past of couple years, including Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love via the Players' Tribune and San Antonio Spurts guard/forward DeMar DeRozan to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

The NBA is also putting considerable resources into players' mental health, which includes mandating that every team has a mental health professional on staff.

As for Westbrook's reputation as a caring and helpful teammate, Abrines isn't the only former teammate of his to offer significant praise. Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter did so on ESPN's First Take.

He also received positive remarks from Thunder guard Dennis Schroder, ex-NBA forward Nick Collison and Los Angeles Clippers forward (and ex-OKC teammate) Paul George, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated in a Dec. 6, 2018, piece.

Abrines and the Thunder mutually agreed to a release in February. He signed a two-year deal with FC Barcelona in July.

Westbrook played on the Thunder for 11 seasons before being traded to the Houston Rockets this offseason.

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