Russell Westbrook Talks ‘NBA Live 16,’ Player Rating, and Favorite In-Game Jordans

On top of being one of the most prolific point guards in the NBA, 26-year-old DEW athlete Russell Westbrook has transformed into a pop culture figure as the head of his own line of clothing and frames, the new creative director at True Religion, and now, NBA Live cover athlete.

During EA’s preview party for NBA Live 16 at Terminal 23 in New York City, Green Label caught up with the 2015 All-Star MVP to talk about the latest basketball game, making the cover, and his favorite sneakers on the virtual court.

First off, tell us how it feels getting your first-ever video game cover?
It’s a blessing, man. Whenever you get the chance to be put on a video game that you grew up playing, it never gets old. It’s a blessing for me to be on the cover of NBA Live 16.

EA discussed how your explosive on-court intensity played a huge role in selecting you as the cover athlete. What personal traits do you feel the developers were able to carry over into this year’s game?
EA’s team did a great job of kinda incorporating the same exact things I do through the games and the attributes of other players, too. Obviously they fixed the gameplay and the different things that go into making the video game. I think they did an amazing job in making sure that was possible.

How hands-on were you during the development of it?
I was part of the motion-capture process, went to Vancouver to do all that stuff. It was a great experience for me to do some of the voiceovers, the intros, and different things of that nature to help bring the game to life.

One of the dope features in Live 16 is the player customization, particularly the sneaker integration. Since the Jordan Brand has a bigger presence this year, and you represent them, what are your favorite J’s to rock in the game?
They play a huge part in the game. I would probably say I like the Jordan 29’s to be honest with you because I play in them. I dig those a lot man, I like them!

Let’s keep it 100: Do you always play as the Oklahoma City Thunder in the game?
One-hundred percent. Why would I play with anybody else? We have the best team in the game. Yeah!

Do you compete against any other OKC teammates during your downtime?
If they want to play the game. But most of them don’t play many video games anymore.

What do you normally listen to when playing the game?
Honestly, I like to listen to the analysis of the crowd in the game. The commentary too! That is how I do it!

This year’s game is more technical and EA’s managed to upgrade the coaching mechanics. As a professional baller, how would you rate the play-calling system?
I think it’s really good. It’s very hard to be able to get a team’s playbook and put that in a video game. Very difficult to do that, but the overall generic plays are pretty similar to what people see in real games and throughout the year.

Every year you get a few players who catch feelings and express their frustrations on Twitter over their player rating. Are you happy with yours?
Hell yeah! I am!

Had to ask because the game has Chris Paul rated as the top point guard. And you’re a guy who is definitely vocal about your talents and everything you bring onto the court.
That doesn’t bother me much. I’m just happy and blessed to be on the cover of the game. Also happy to be part of the entire experience!

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