Russell Westbrook has been at the receiving end of all the criticism from fans and media alike during the 2021/22 NBA season for his under par performances for the Los Angeles Lakers. The former NBA MVP never got going in this season and failed to play to his reputation in the Purple and Gold jersey.
His fit with LeBron James was expected to produce some spectacular play but the duo didn’t do much whenever they played together. Now that the season is over, Westbrook had the chance to reflect on it, saying that he was never allowed to be himself, even though Anthony Davis and LeBron James repeatedly stated that during the season.
Westbrook’s final press conference of the season raised a lot of eyebrows around the league. He talked about his teammates, former head coach, and the way they tried to use him. While many people didn’t agree with him, Richard Jefferson came in Russ’ defense, claiming that he was asked to do something he hadn’t done before, only to get criticized when things didn’t work out well.
“Russ Was Asked To Do Something He’s Never Done In His Hall-of-Fame Career And Then We Criticized Him”: Richard Jefferson
During a recent edition of ESPN’s NBA Today, Jefferson had this to say:
“This is the thing. When I see Russ talk in that moment, I still see professionalism. Because he’s not coming out here and blasting Coach Vogel. He said, ‘I don’t know what Coach Vogel’s problem was with me.’ It could have been your shooting percentage in the fourth quarter, but then, on his side, he was like, ‘I wasn’t put in the best position.’ All the people that said they want Russ to be Russ, ‘I need to have the ball in my hands 95% of the time, and I need to run the offense. I need to make some mistakes, but I also need some positives to come with those mistakes.’ He just wasn’t in that position. Everyone knew that going into, Russ knew that going into, so the fact that we ask Russ to do something he’s never done in his Hall-of-Fame career, and then criticize him for not being able to do something he’s never done in his Hall-of-Fame career, I think that shows the disarray from the front office that shows there was a lot more tension from the team and inside that shown…”
Undoubted, Russell seems to have been made the scapegoat for the Lakers lacklustre season. There were a lot of factors which contributed to the Lakers dismal campaign. Some say injuries played a big role in that, and that’s true, but this team collectively failed to show intent in their games.
Rumors are rife that Westbrook could be traded in the offseason by the Lakers. It could be a blessing in disguise for Russ as a new opportunity could well be the reason for the change in his fortunes.