San Antonio Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan did what probably thousands of basketball fans do — associate Russell Westbrook's name with the term "brick." However, unlike most fans, the 19-year-old rookie was caught on video, which went around social media.
Sochan was then praised by anti-Westbrook truthers about his joke, but he also caught a ton of flack from Westbrook's fans in particular, to the point that the rookie had to clarify his choice of words on Twitter.
Whether people like it or not, Sochan associated "Brick" with Westbrook's name for a reason. And it now begs to ask the question: Has the perception of Westbrook changed in this generation? His career has certainly taken a massive hit after failing to thrive in what was supposed to be his best shot at winning a title. And it also seems like no team in the NBA has any interest in Westbrook if several first-round picks aren't attached to him. He went from being an all-time Hall of Famer to the most significant liability in the league.
Does Westbrook deserve all the slander?
The problem with the Russell Westbrook narrative is he attracts criticism to himself. Sure, he's still capable of putting up triple-doubles, but that doesn't excuse his inability to improve his jump shot (especially in this era) and unwillingness to take accountability for his poor play. It's okay to praise Wesbrook's durability and fighting spirit on the court, but at the same time, that doesn't dismiss the notion that he's not a winning player.
History has shown over time that Westbrook can put up the most impeccable numbers, but it doesn't lead to anything close to a championship. It's also important to point out that there are numbers to prove why he continues to be a liability to his team. Westbrook led the league in missed layups, was the worst qualified 3-point shooter, and ranked 2nd last season in turnovers. People calling this out doesn't necessarily mean it's slander because it's facts over feelings (shoutout to Darvin Ham for this new phrase).
To make things worst, it doesn't help that Westbrook barely takes accountability for his actions. For example, in his exit interview with the Lakers last April, he not only threw Frank Vogel under the bus (and got him fired) but also LeBron James and Anthony Davis — two players who welcomed him with open arms in Los Angeles. Below is one of the many clips of Westbrook last season going at it with the media just because he didn't want to own up for his actions:
It's time to accept who Westbrook is
Westbrook has reached a point where there are more negative things to say about his game than positives. And maybe it's time to accept that's how it is.
It's okay to acknowledge Westbrook as the best triple-double king in NBA history but at the same time say his game doesn't translate to winning basketball. It's okay to remember how Westbrook was arguably the most athletic point guard in NBA history in his prime while at the same time attest that he does brick layups, misses jumpers, and plays poor defense. It's fine to say that Westbrook has every right to accept his 5 years $206,794,070 contract and, at the same time, say that he doesn't live up to his contract's value.
Ultimately, this is just who Westbrook is, and people need to understand that he's not going to change — for good or for the bad. This has and will always be the story of his career.