It was less than four years ago when Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook were trash-talking and fighting each other over the pettiest little things. Their rivalry was so well-documented that even Lillard said Westbrook is his biggest arch-nemesis. From their classic playoff battles to altercations on the court, many would expect that these two hate each other.
However, the animosity between these two All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers has turned into mutual respect. In fact, Lillard recently defended his arch-rival and said that Westbrook doesn't deserve all the hate thrown his way right now.
"I do think that it's gone to the extreme. It's almost like people just see something that they think people are going to agree with if they just talk shit about Russell Westbrook. So everyone's just throwing stuff at him, and it's gone overboard at this point, in my opinion; that's crazy to me," Lillard, who guested on the Club Shay Shay podcast, said.
What Russ can do that Dame can't
Lillard also admits that he will never have Westbrook's ability to notch triple-doubles regularly. He said his arch-rival deserves more respect than what he's getting right now because what Westbrook has achieved is unprecedented.
"Russell Westbrook career and legacy is undeniable, the career he had, the things he accomplished and the things that he's done, nobody else has been able to do it, If I tried to go every game and get a triple-double for a whole season, I can't do it."
Damian Lillard, Club Shay Shay
Is Lillard correct that the basketball community should appreciate Westbrook more?
Sorry Dame, not this time
Westbrook is receiving criticism because of how he's performed in the past few seasons, including this year. He may be number one on the NBA's All-time triple-double list, but that hasn't translated to playoff success except for that one time when he led the OKC Thunder to the Finals alongside Kevin Durant.
Sure, Westbrook can still be an effective offensive player (in very particular settings), but it's hard to deny that his behavior has also ruined his reputation. For example, this season alone, he's reportedly clashed with his teammates and coaches all year and refused to train with the best developmental coach in the league, Phil Handy. The list goes on.
Dame might have a point in saying that Westbrook probably does not deserve all the criticism thrown his way, but it's not like Brodie's performance this year backs Lillard's statements up.