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“You would've thought they were 15-40, that's how bad it was after one game.” — Russell Westbrook was a problem from day 1

While bashing LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook inadvertently admitted he never really wanted to change
Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, assistant coach David Fizdale and head coach Frank Vogel

Russel Westbrook, David Fizdale and Frank Vogel

Russell Westbrook is on a media campaign trying to convince us he “never had a problem with a coach,” after multiple reports of him being uncoachable came out. Anyone who’s been casually following the NBA knows Westbrook is probably the least coachable star in the NBA. Zach Lowe shared a moment that shows Russ never really felt like changing. (Shocker, I know.)

First game of the season

The moment the Westbrook trade was announced, everyone freaked out. Not because we were thinking about the comparison with other scenarios on the table (Buddy Hield or DeMar DeRozan). In a vacuum, this trade didn’t make any sense. 

Even when he shot reasonably well, Westbrook was only as valuable as much as he has the ball in his hands. So getting him on a team with LeBron James after he’s been the worst shooter in basketball for the past few years (yeah yeah, I know Ben Simmons exists) just didn’t make any sense. Westbrook sucks on defense and is only good on offense if everything revolves around him. This was no secret, and the Lakers coaches knew it from Day 1. 

“I saw some of the Lakers coaches after the very first game of the season. The Warriors came back in the 4th quarter and Russ was a disaster. I don't remember what Russ' stats were. It was one of those games where it's like, ”Is something wrong with his hands, can he not dribble?” The coaches were walking out of the tunnel, talking to me and talking to others and the looks on their faces - you would've thought they were 15-40, that's how bad it was after one game. I haven't seen anyone so haggard after one game since the Rockets years ago.”

Zach Lowe, The Lowe Post

The coaches see and know a lot more than we do. Westbrook’s stats aren’t crucial after one game (8/5/4, 4-13 from the field, 0-4 from behind the arc), as much as they indicate a willingness to change and adapt. If Westbrook had set screens, and slashed to the rim five times and missed, you’d be optimistic. But it’s not like Westbrook didn’t let everyone know what his attitude on input and change is. 

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He did what he wanted

The recipe for success playing next to LeBron is no secret - move without the ball, drain open shots; if you can’t shoot, run a bit more, and he’ll set you up for a dunk or a layup. It’s not like the Lakers coaching staff didn’t try to communicate this to Westbrook, but that’s not what he wanted to do. 

In an early-season film session, assistant coach David Fizdale challenged Westbrook on his shot selection, and the two had an animated exchange, sources said. That was one of the instances when Westbrook was challenged by a coach or teammate, and the style the coaching staff envisioned for Westbrook did not match what took place on the court.

Shams Charania, The Athletic

The persistence and confidence it takes to become a max player can quickly turn to stubbornness, and Westbrook seems to be the textbook example of such a situation. LeBron pushed for his arrival, Rob Pelinka caved, Westbrook didn’t want to change, and in the end, Frank Vogel got fired. 

The LeBron media machine is pushing out the story that while James might’ve pushed for Westbrook’s arrival, he only did so because Westbrook told LeBron he’s willing to change his game. But then, during the season, both James and Davis told everyone the plan was to “let Russ be Russ.”

While Westbrook is correct in pointing out LeBron’s and AD’s dishonesty, he also revealed what we all know - changing his game was never an option. The lyrics to his anthem are more than clear. 

“Boy I started on the bottom, made my way to the top
Boy I’m gon’ keep winning, no I cannot stop
‘Member I had a little, (I did) turned that shit to a lot
Always been one hundred, put that on my block
Used to want a 4 door, now I want that drop, yeah
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want
Now I do what I want, now I do what I want”

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