OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook stressed the need for change and perspective in the wake of recent events in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
"More importantly, I think a lot of people don't realize the families of all these young men, their mothers, their brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, I think it's very important that we understand how important the families feel about the situations," he said. "And me being an African-American athlete and having a voice, I think it's important that I make a stand and know that something has to change. I think I don't have an answer. Obviously nobody has an answer -- if that's the case, it would have been solved -- but I think it's important that we figure out what we can do to help improve what's going on."
Westbrook was outspoken on social media following the death of Terence Crutcher, who was fatally shot Sept. 16 in Tulsa, reposting a message from pastor John Gray on Instagram.
With Colin Kaepernick sparking protests across the NFL, as well as other sports, by kneeling during the national anthem, Westbrook was asked about the challenges of using his platform for activism.
"I think for me personally, me growing up in the inner city and being able to see different things on a night-in and day-in, day-out basis," he said, "that hit home for me just being able to see different things that's going on globally and getting an opportunity for other people across the world to be able to see it, and now I think it's getting to a point where obviously there's something that needs to be changed on that aspect and you know, I'm going to use my voice as much as possible being able to relay that message."
Westbrook said he's unsure if other NBA players will continue protests once the season begins. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported on Thursday, the league and the players' union are working on a common ground in preparation for potential protests.
"Obviously some players feel differently than others because I think based on how people were brought up, where they were born, how we were raised, a lot of things come into play, you start talking about political views and different things going on around the country," Westbrook said. "But I think different guys, some may stand up, some may not, but it will be interesting to see."
Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Wednesday his preference would be that players remain standing for the national anthem, but acknowledges their right to express themselves individually.
"Our viewpoint on it is obviously we've had players and staff stand for the national anthem over the past eight years. We'd love to see that continue," he said. "At the same time, our players have the opportunity and ability to express themselves as people, and we respect that above all."
Thunder guard Anthony Morrow, a native of Charlotte, said he's heartbroken by the current situation in his hometown following the death of Keith Lamont Scott. Morrow called for unity and change.
"Obviously I'm sad, that being in my own personal city, it's very unfortunate, a sad situation, and a sad unfortunate time we're in right now. But it really hit home with me being in Tulsa and the next day it's Charlotte," Morrow said. "It's just something that we've just got to continue to pray and continue to try to find the right answer or medium. Because right now, it's kind of all-or-nothing. So just praying for my city and praying for Tulsa and everywhere else."