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Did Los Angeles Take Away Russell Westbrook's Joy for the Game?

At the beginning of the halftime show, Charles Barkley said in passing, “I need to get something off my chest.” And as always, the TNT crew had to go to break because you know the guys always run the clock out with all the banter. When they came back from break, they gave Chuck the stage and he went on to talk about how “they” have taken the joy out of basketball for Russell Westbrook.

In the first half of the game, Reggie Miller was talking about how Russ averaged 18-7-7 last season, posing the rhetorical question, “if you look at most of the league would you want that PG on your team?” The answer was an emphatic YES. At this point it poses the question, what other outside factors are at play that could help explain why Russ is under such scrutiny; better yet, what might have caused Russ to have the lowest PPG since the second year of his career?

Is it the pressure of playing for the Showtime Lakers and having to live up to the greats? Is it because the ball gets run through Lebron instead of him on offense? Is his interest in fashion getting in the way of his day job? Or does the harassment that Westbrook and his family have endured in his struggle to fit in with the Lakers have something to do with it?

I could see how all of those factors contributed to his lackluster performance last season, but I think #LakerNation, and all basketball fans for that matter, needs to give him a chance to prove why he is a first ballot hall of fame.

You don’t just earn an MVP overnight.

It takes countless hours of dedication to your craft. It’s highly unlikely that Russ earns that kind of award on this kind of Lakers team, but he knows what it takes to be great. He’s also in his 14th year in the NBA, he’s no “young buck.”

The Lakers finished 11th overall in the NBA last season with a record of 33-49. Russell Westbrook played 78 games. Anthony Davis played 40 games and was out the rest due to injury.

Could you imagine trying to find chemistry in your first year on a team with Lebron, when you had intended on finding that chemistry with Anthony Davis? There was no chance of the season’s game plan being executed because of unforeseen circumstances, so there’s no sense in using Frank Vogel or Russ as scapegoats. Unfortunately, Frank Vogel doesn’t have a chance to defend himself after getting let go just 1 year after winning a championship for one of the best franchises of all time.

Russell Westbrook has the most triple-doubles in NBA history (194).

In Game 1 of the 2022-2023 season, Russ had 19 PTS, 11 REB, 3 AST. His game may not be pretty at 33, but he’s always going to give his team 110% to try and get the win.

Kyle Richards

Kyle Richards

I'm a design thinker, a builder of digital things, and a firm believer in the power of sports.

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