LONDON — Russell Westbrook was fighting the urge to surrender himself completely to the moment Friday afternoon.
Sure, Olympic competition in some sports had already begun, but not for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team. The opening ceremonies had yet to begin and Westbrook, experiencing the Summer Games for the first time, didn’t want to false start.
“Maybe later tonight, when we’re in there for the opening ceremonies,” he said when asked when it would hit him that he was really here. “Maybe then, but not before that. Right now, I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this team.”
After the extravagant, brilliant and simply breathtaking production from famed British filmmaker Danny Boyle at the Olympic Stadium, complete with Sir Paul McCartney ending the show with a rendition of “Hey Jude,” it’s safe to assume that Westbrook and the rest of his teammates who were diving into the Olympic phenomenon for the first time are completely immersed in the moment now.
They were warned.
“It’s not something you can really prepare anybody for,” said veteran point guard Chris Paul, making his second appearance in the Games for the U.S. “We went through it in Beijing and you don’t understand the magnitude of what’s going on until you get here [to the site of the Games] and realize what it means to the people hosting it and all of the people who are involved in putting it on. It’s unreal.”