The Los Angeles Lakers came into the season with high expectations of dominating the Western Conference and going all the way in the post-season. What else can be expected when you have LeBron James on your team, along with other stars like Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and co. But the season has been highly disappointing for the Purple & Gold, who are currently 8th in the West with a 21-22 record. One of the primary scapegoats has been Westbrook, but the whole team is getting called out, even by Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
Magic is not happy
We know Magic Johnson as one of the best players and most joyous people you will ever see. Always smiling with that huge grin, Magic is a staple of positivity. But even he can't find optimism around the current Lakers squad. After a blowout loss to a depleted Nuggets team in Denver, Magic took to Twitter to share his displeasure with the team's effort while feeling sorry for owner Jeanie Buss.
Obviously, Magic's word means a great deal, as Lakers Nation took that comment to heart. But did he say anything wrong? Sure, injuries have been plaguing the Lakers all season, but what else can you expect when you assemble a team full of veteran guys. But also, when they are out there, the lack of effort, especially on the defensive end, is abysmal. That kind of attitude won't get them far, even if all their players are available to play.
Aside from LeBron James, Malik Monk, and Austin Reaves, you could say every other player on this Lakers roster has dealt with some form of criticism. The leader of the pack? Russell Westbrook. The electric point guard has been a superstar in the NBA for the past decade with his ridiculous stats and triple-double records.
But when push comes to shove and the lights are bright, Westbrook is playing the worst basketball of his career. 18.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 8.0 apg sound like great numbers from your third star, but when you look at it a bit deeper, the truth gets revealed. Leading the league in turnovers with 4.3 per game and horrible shooting splits(43/29/66) makes Russ the main target of Lakers fans.
The poor shot selection, careless turnovers in the clutch, and lackadaisical defensive effort overshadow the pure numbers and expose Westbrook. Lakers fans have gone as far as sending diss-tracks to Westbrook's DMs. But in his style, Russ is shrugging away from the haters and going in his own lane without losing too much sleep.
Interestingly Westbrook responded to Magic comments:
"I do not have a reaction. Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion. Regardless of what that it is. You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you can not respond to it. Magic's entitled to his opinion. And he's not here every day. He's not around us every day. He's not aware of what's going on internally with us and trying to figure things out. But I have no response to that."
Russell Westbrook, ESPN
A classic Westbrook response. Not taking any accountability or acknowledgment of constructive criticism. I fear Russ's ego may be too big for the LA media and spotlight. The fit with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook is terrible. That narrative has been said countless times ever since the trade went down. Considering LeBron has been playing fantastic and still losing tells you the whole story.
I wholeheartedly want Russ to find a role on his team and contribute, but at this pace, he could be out of town by the trade deadline. You know, " The King" doesn't have time to mess around and fight for a play-in spot at this phase of his career. It's championship or bust for LeBron.