The relationship between the Los Angeles Lakers and Russell Westbrook didn’t appear to be in a good place at the end of the regular season. The former MVP suggested that former head coach Frank Vogel had a problem with him and even threw Anthony Davis and LeBron James under the bus. After that, it was almost impossible to imagine he’d be back with the team next season.
Now that there’s been some time in between the ending of the Lakers’ season and now, chances are increasing that Westbrook will be with the team next season. Los Angeles recently introduced Darvin Ham as the next head coach and the guard was in attendance for the press conference. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith had a problem with Westbrook showing up to support the new coach, which was met with a ton of pushback by New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum.
“Him supporting his team, his organization, his coach, a fellow African-American man who got hired by the Los Angeles Lakers. This is what you said!” McCollum said on “First Take.” “You said that him going to the press conference, you’re disappointed in that? Run the tape. We got the tape. That’s what you said. … Even if you didn’t mean it the way I said it, you said that he shouldn’t have been at that press conference, that’s foul.”
In the past, Smith has hosted “First Take” with veteran media personalities like Max Kellerman and Skip Bayless. ESPN has started to have him share the stage with former players who have been ruthless in taking him down for certain takes. Westbrook’s former teammate Kevin Durant came down hard on Smith and praised the new format.
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Why Was Westbrook at Ham’s Presser?
Only a small handful of players showed up to Ham’s introductory press conference. Notably, Anthony Davis and LeBron James were nowhere to be seen. The former hasn’t said anything about the hire yet but the latter has already voiced his support for the coach. Even if they had shown up, it would’ve still been more notable that Westbrook was there.
It looked like the guard had played his last game in a Lakers uniform but there’s growing momentum that he’ll be back. By him showing up, he proved that he’s still committed to the team despite some turbulence this season.
Will Westbrook Buy Into Ham’s Approach?
During Ham’s introductory press conference, he revealed that he’s a big fan of Westbrook and wants to coach him. However, he mentioned that he’s talked about sacrifice a lot in his conversations with the guard. Westbrook has never been known as a player who makes big sacrifices.
Next season, he might not have a choice but to change his approach. If not, he could be out of the league quicker than anybody suspected. Nobody is going to want to employ a high-maintenance guard who isn’t willing to change for the betterment of a team. Whether he likes it or not, Westbrook has no choice but to buy what Ham’s selling.