The Lakers came up short (117-110) against the San Antonio Spurs, but the real story of the night wasn't their usual lackluster performance. It was Russell Westbrook's deflating and heartbreaking comments post-game, where he addressed all the hatred towards him and his family this season.
Westbrook, who put up a subpar performance on Monday night, talked about how his wife Nina Westbrook (who also addressed naysayers Monday morning) and kids have all reached a breaking point towards fans and the media brutally calling out their family name.
According to Westbrook, the term "Westbrick" that his critics have often associated him with has reached a point where it has toxically impacted his family.
"I haven't done anything to anybody. I haven't hurt anyone. I haven't done anything but play basketball in a way that people may not like, and this is just a game. This is just a game. It's not my entire life, and I think that's the ultimate thing it's been for me, and I don't like to harp on it. I just kind of want it out because once it starts to affect my family, my wife, and even today, my mom said something about it…." Westbrook said.
Westbrook is just human.
Westbrook isn't a stranger to criticism. He's heard all the noise throughout his 14-year-career in the NBA. But there comes a point where all the toxic slander must be stopped.
Sure, it's fair to critique his style of play or how unfairly he's being paid for what he's giving, but it's disgusting to know that all the unwarranted behavior from fans and the media has taken its toll on his family. It's even reached a point where he no longer wants to bring his family to his games in his hometown.
"I don't even want to bring my kids to the game, because I don't want them to hear people calling their dad nicknames for no reason because he's playing the game that he loves," Westbrook said, while his voice started to crack. "It's gotten so bad that my family doesn't even want to go to home games," Westbrook said.
We as a society need to be better.
As sports fans, it's perfectly fine to criticize an athlete or express our frustration with them. However, there must be a filter in expressing our feelings and thoughts, not just for athletes but for every human we encounter.
As mentioned above, Westbrook may not be the perfect basketball player. He's past his prime and is arguably hurting his team more than helping them, but this shouldn't excuse anyone from sending death threats and hate messages towards him and his family. It's time to take a step back and realize how our actions can incredibly affect a person and the people around them.
Because after all, Russell Westbrook and his family deserve better.