It’s been a brutal first year in Los Angeles for nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook.
When the Lakers traded for Westbrook in the offseason, there were two prevailing thoughts.
The first was that the addition next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis constituted a new “Big Three,” destined to win the Western Conference and give James a shot at a fifth championship.
This was the thought of those who haven’t watched basketball in 15 years.
The second way of thinking saw the addition for what it was. An organization forced into making a desperate move due to the presence of a larger than life star. The “Big Three” was doomed from the start, tied to an aging roster that includes Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Westbrook’s fit next to James never made sense, with the Lakers going in the opposite direction of rosters that have seen success with James at the center.
But that’s a basketball conversation, one that should take place between the talking heads on sports networks around the country, or between fans of the NBA.
As is often the case in sports, fans — short for fanatics — feel that because they are paying to attend games, or purchase team garb, they are entitled to say whatever comes to their mind when attending games. Westbrook has been booed by the home Lakers crowd on numerous occasions, as his shooting woes have continued throughout the season. But it appears that Westbrook has had enough, as his family is now dealing with criticism from those who feel that Westbrook is letting them down.
On Monday, Westbrook’s wife Nina Westbrook, took to Twitter to express her disappointment in the “harassment” she has received over her husband’s basketball play.
“When I’m being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I’m having obscenities and death wishes for me and my family sent my way because you’re expressing your ‘truth,’ it’s hard for me to get on board with that,” Nina Westbrook said.
Following another Lakers loss — a 117-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs — Westbrook addressed his wife’s comments.
“I 100 percent stand behind my wife and how she’s feeling because it’s not just about this year,” Westbrook said in his postgame press conference. “Right now, she’s reached a point, and my family has reached a point to where it’s really weighing on them. It’s very unfortunate just for me personally because this is just a game. This is just a game. This is not the end all be all. When it comes to basketball, I don’t mind the criticism of missing and making shots, but the moment it becomes where my name is getting shamed, it becomes an issue.”
“I’ve kind of let it go in the past because it never really bothered me, but it really kind of hit me the other day,” he continued. “Me and my wife were at teacher-parent conferences for my son and the teacher told me, ‘Noah, he’s so proud of his last name. He writes it everywhere. He writes it on everything. He tells everybody and walks around and says, ‘I’m Westbrook.’'”
“That’s his last name. I kind of sat there in shock, and it hit me, like, damn. I can no longer allow people, for example, ‘Westbrick’ to me is now shaming. It’s shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It’s a name that means, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kind of paved the way for me. And that’s just one example that kind of hit myself and my wife in a place that’s not great.”
“A lot of times, I let it slide. But it’s now time to put a stop to that and put it on notice,” he added.
"I stand behind my wife with how she's feeling…it's reached a point where it's really weighing on my family." @russwest44 shares his thoughts on the comments made by his wife saying she and her family are "harassed on a daily basis". pic.twitter.com/ize5TLvVnb
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 8, 2022
Westbrook is averaging 18.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game in 63 games. He’s shooting 43% from the field and just 28.2% from three, both hovering near career lows.
“It affects them even going to games,” Westbrook said about his family attending games. “Like, 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 and other names for no reason because he’s playing the game that he loves. And it’s gotten so bad where my family don’t even want to go to home games, to any game.”
“It’s just super unfortunate, man,” he added. “And it’s super upsetting to me. I’m at a point to where I’m going to continue to address it. It’s just unfortunate.”
It’s not the first time Westbrook has had issues with the fans.
Last season, Westbrook — then of the Washington Wizards — had to be restrained after a Philadelphia 76ers fan dumped a bucket of popcorn on his head as he exited the floor with an injury. Westbrook, who has had multiple run-ins with fans in the past, attempted to go after the fan but was held back.
“To be completely honest, this s*** is getting out of hand, especially for me,” Westbrook said according to ESPN. “The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f*** they want to do — it’s just out of pocket. There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting …a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens.
“In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players,” Westbrook continued. “We’ll see what the NBA does.”
Fans have crossed the line with Westbrook multiple times in his career, and now that it’s impacting his family, Westbrook is going to do his best to put a stop to it.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.