It seems Russell Westbrook is one of the most disrespected players in the NBA at the moment, despite the fact he is once again averaging a triple-double for the entire season so far. Westbrook is having another historic season, especially when you consider the numbers he is putting up this year. Still, people are so used to him having that kind of impact, and it seems that nobody really cares anymore. In the last couple of weeks, there was a lot of criticism towards Westbrook, especially from Stephen A.Smith, but other former and current players are defending Westbrook and his accomplishments.
Current NBA player Duncan Robinson said that the slander towards Westbrook needs to stop describing him as one of the greatest guards in NBA history. Shaquille O'Neal, who is often critical for players who haven't won a championship, also came to Westbrook's defense, saying that his perception and respect for Westbrook won't change even if he never wins a title.
Shaq acknowledges that all the great players in NBA history had to go through a period of proving themselves, and their road to the championship wasn't easy. Even Shaq himself had multiple disappointing seasons before he won his first NBA title with the Lakers despite being one of the best players in the NBA at that time.
He's one of my favorite players. Unfortunately, in this business, all the greats had to go through this. Dr.J had to go through this, Michael Jordan, Isiah, Magic, myself, D-Wade had to go through this. In this thing of ours, to get that ultimate respect, it would be nice to have that. A lot of people say certain things, and that's just an unfortunate part of this business. When you're a great player, and you're putting up great numbers, people are always gonna say, 'Wait until you have a championship.' If you don't get a championship, that's not a knock. You can't tell me Allen Iverson is not one of the greatest point guards; you can't tell me that John Stockton is not one of the greatest point guards. You can't tell me Karl Malone or Charles Barkley are not some of the greatest power forwards. That's just the unfortunate thing [about the NBA]. "Everybody had to go through it. It's not like we're just picking on [Westbrook], all the greats, and we look at him as a great player; everybody had to go through this.
Shaquille O'Neal, via House of Highlights
One of the biggest reasons for all the slander Westbrook and other great NBA players are getting is the media and their perception of what it means to be great. Nowadays, if you don't win it all, you are not considered an all-time great, which is a false narrative pushed by the media and even some fans. If you talk about Westbrook, either you like him or not, you can't deny he is an astonishing player that always comes ready to play and compete and, on top of that, is a proven leader, which isn't the case for other great players in the league.