After dealing with his fair share of criticisms, Russell Westbrook has finally shared his side of the story. From his point of view, he's not entirely to blame for his and the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles all season long. For Westbrook, he was never given the keys to play his own game.
Let me be myself
In the Lakers' exit interview, Westbrook got to the heart of what he feels is the reason behind his team's struggles. To recall, Westbrook was acquired in a massive deal from Washington. LeBron James reportedly wanted a playmaker to take off some of the offensive load. From the looks of it, this was what was communicated to Westbrook, which ultimately made him agree. But as he would later find out, there was no precise adjustment to accommodate his play style.
"I just felt like I was never given a fair chance to be who I needed to be to help this team," Westbrook said, per the Southern California News Group.
This was the tune fans, and analysts were singing the moment the Lakers acquired the former league MVP. Fans knew that for a James team to succeed, he needed decent shooters around him. Westbrook never really puts fear in defenders' eyes when he is behind the 3-point line.
Meanwhile, James didn't make ample adjustments to give Westbrook free reign. He was still doing his own thing — orchestrating the offense and doing pretty much everything else. So while people were singing praises for the 37-year-old LeBron, Westbrook was being slammed by critics.
In fact, Westbrook noted that these off-court issues, particularly false articles from the media, were also part of the problem. Some stories claimed that Westbrook wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with Vogel and his staff. California native refuted this claim and even said he gifted Vogel and his wife a bottle of champagne for their anniversary.
"There's just so many made-up stories that are not true... That's part of not getting a fair chance. Like 'OK, now I have to fight against this made-up story," Westbrook said, per SB Nation.
Westbrook didn't mention it in the exit interview, but Lakers fans continuously heckled Westbrook in person and on social media. It even got to the point that his family didn't attend Lakers games to avoid hearing slanders. What was tagged as a grand homecoming for Westbrook turned into a living nightmare for his career and personal life.
Westbrook has a $47 million player option for next season — a decision he hasn't given much thought to yet. Whatever the case may be, there are loud signs that the Lakers will part ways with the former MVP.