Why Not be better than last year?
Why Not stay positive?
Why not get into college?
Why not start a successful company?
Why not be the next Westbrook?
Those were some of the questions scribbled in permanent marker on the Why Not? Wall installation inside the yet-to-open 8th Street Market in Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley on Monday night. Prompted by the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, 500 local high school students wrote down their goals for the upcoming year, in the form of the Thunder point guard’s signature slogan.
As a part of a fan rally that hosted students from Douglass, Aztec Charter, Westmoore and Mustang high schools, Jordan Brand showed off the Why Not? Westbrook Collection of clothing, along with the highly anticipated Jordan XXXII sneakers, which will be released on Wednesday. With the start of the reigning NBA MVP, and the Thunder’s, season starting on Thursday night against the New York Knicks, Westbrook and Jordan thought Monday was the perfect opportunity to build momentum heading into the year.
Inside the multi-purpose facility just east of Midtown, there were an assortment of activations for the kids to enjoy: pop-a-shots, NBA2K stations, photo booths and a food truck. The teenagers milled about, socialized and scoped out the Jordan XXXII’s and Jordan’s Westbrook’s fashion collection, which was open for early access exclusively in Oklahoma City on Monday night, but won’t be released to the public until January.
Then, a ripple went through the crowd. It was Westbrook’s time to arrive. He shuffled through the throng, high fived the students and even went toe-to-toe on the pop-a-shot with a lucky Mustang freshman named Matthew. An aisle cleared for Westbrook to stroll through, then roll onto the stage and pop to his feet, in rhythm to bob with the hip hop being played from the DJ booth.
Before live performances from rappers PnB Rock and MadeinTYO, Westbrook thanked the crowd and delivered his message to the students.
“(Why Not?) was a message we used to inspire ourselves and inspire other people and inspire us to get our parents and families out of the hood,” Westbrook said. “It got me to this point.”
“The main thing I was on when I was younger is staying focused,” Westbrook continued. “Obviously now with social media and everything else going on in the world, the main thing for you guys and even myself now is staying focused on your main goal.”
When Westbrook arrived in Oklahoma City, he wasn’t much older than most of the students in attendance – just 19 years old. Now he’s 28, on the verge of 29, with a wife and an infant son.
“Oklahoma City has raised me,” Westbrook explained. “I’ve been blessed to be here in Oklahoma City and see everything evolve.”
That’s why Westbrook chose to stay in Oklahoma City, and it’s why he continues to give back, reward and invest in this down. It’s why he reached out to some local high school students to be the first to get a chance to buy his clothing line, and to participate in his season-beginning and shoe-launching rally.
It’s also why he delivered his own inspirational message to the teenagers on the Why Not? wall.
Why not you?
Why not me?
Why not us?
Full video: Why Not? Rally