Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic players and hardest workers the NBA has ever seen. What he has achieved in his career is highly impressive, being the 2017 MVP, 9x All-Star, member of the NBA's Top 75, and someone that has managed to average a triple-double for four seasons. His resume is unmatchable, and the highlights of his career are a joy to watch. With all that said, in 2022, at 33 years old, Westbrook has become the worst possible player you can have on your team.
The shadow of the past Russ
As a long-time Westbrook and OKC Thunder fan that has watched and defended Russ for more than a decade, it's crazy to say that Westbrook is a player no one currently wants to have on their team. Sure he was making dumb mistakes for his whole career, with mindless turnovers and poor shot selection, frustrating the Thunder fans to the max. But still, they loved him because he never took a night off and left it his all.
But that was way in the past when he had the energy to compensate for the lack of his basketball IQ. Now at 33 years old, although he has still avoided any major injuries, Russ is slowing down, and his game is becoming less valuable and dangerous by the day. His stardom days are outdated, but it seems Westbrook isn't willing to accept that. Now the Lakers are stuck with a point guard that doesn't fit their system, doesn't want a smaller role, and doesn't have the ability to lead them to wins making $44.21 million this and next season.
Talk about an untradeable contract. It was obvious this wasn't going to work. Sure a flashy guy like Westbrook in the shiny city of LA, back home alongside LBJ and AD, sounds perfect. But then you realize these guys don't mesh at all. And now you are 27-35, fighting to stay in the #10 seed and squeeze into the play-in. The player and the fans were announcing a championship run before the season, assembling a roster full of established veterans to help them. Where is that energy now?
Where is the respect?
Everybody is pretending things will work out with 20-something games left in the season. Everybody is pointing fingers, but nothing is changing. And now everybody is acting like this wasn't a roster constructed to win the championship. I mean, Westbrook has been known for having a terrible relationship with the media, but last night's press conference was just the tipping point on me saying that this guy just doesn't get it anymore.
While being asked a simple question about the Lakers' intentions not going to plan, Russ decided to go at the reporter and question him. But you have to give kudos to the reporter that stayed calm and even sneakily burned Westbrook.
Reporter: Has it been difficult for you to process the fact that it hasn't happened the way you guys envisioned it?
Westbrook: What did I envision?
Reporter: I would imagine some wins. Winning a championship?
Westbrook: Is the season over?
The two would continue into a meaningless back and forth, with Russ avoiding answering the question or understanding its logic. It's just one of numerous instances in which Westbrook has decided to take zero accountability or admit this season has been going horrible. Yeah, we hear him now and then say he needs to be better, but nothing changes.
He is fine with losing and the fans booing, as he is simply focused on going home and being with his family. That's perfectly fine, but you don't deserve to get that kind of money and play such a role for such a historic franchise like the Lakers with that kind of attitude. Those fans deserve much better than an overpaid and washed guy playing with no emotion for his city.
Honestly, he will probably get shipped to a team that wants to sell some tickets and have a star next season, but the fact of the matter is that Russ will no longer have a part on a winning team unless it's a bench role, and you definitely can't expect that to happen. I wouldn't count out that he is maybe even out of the league when that contract ends because an aging player that is still a superstar in his mind with no game to back it up isn't the most wanted asset in today's NBA. Nevertheless, it was a hell of a run and career for you, Russell Westbrook. Hopefully, the end of it gets a bit more graceful over the next few years.