Russell Westbrook Takes Not-so-Subtle Shot at Lakers

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers, Frank Vogel

Getty Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers plays the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena.

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook missed his first game of the season on February 9 against the Portland Trail Blazers due to tightness in his lower back. The one-time MVP felt back stiffness the night before versus the Milwaukee Bucks and felt too much discomfort to play in the second game of a back-to-back.

The Lakers didn’t trade Westbrook at the trade deadline despite trying to move him and his $44 million contract. The UCLA product spoke to reporters after Los Angeles’ practice on February 11 and said he’s looking forward to making “a splash run” now that the trade deadline has passed.

“I’m looking forward to getting into the [All-Star] break, getting ready to make a splash run and that we’re moving in the direction we need to as a team, collectively,” Westbrook said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “And making sure that we try to put our best foot forward as a collective group.”

Five minutes later, though, Westbrook had a somewhat controversial quote since he took a not-so-subtle shot at the Lakers, particularly head coach Frank Vogel.

Westbrook on His Back Injury: ‘I’m Not Accustomed to Sitting down in Long Stretches’

While talking about his back injury, Westbrook said the discomfort was caused by how Vogel managed his substitution patterns in the loss to the Bucks at Arena. The NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles was benched by his head coach down the stretch.

“I’m not accustomed to sitting down in long stretches,” Westbrook said. “Like, getting up and then, like, moving quickly. Kind of, like, stiff up a little bit.”

Westbrook was benched in the overtime period of the Lakers’ February 5 win over the New York Knicks as well. His first season with the Lakers has been a nightmare, as the future Hall of Famer leads the league in turnovers and is shooting 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.5% from the free-throw line.

Westbrook and Vogel’s relationship will be one to monitor for the rest of the season. The latter has shown he’s not afraid to bench the former, who said after the Bucks game that he has “earned” the right to be on the floor in crucial moments.

Westbrook: ‘I’ve Earned a Right to Be in Closing Lineups’

Westbrook has career averages of 22.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.5 assists. He’s a nine-time All-Star and was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. The California native believes he’s accomplished enough in the NBA for Vogel to play him in crunch time, so it will be interesting to see what happens moving forward.

“I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmark, to be honest,” Westbrook said after the Bucks game. “I’ve put a lot of work and I’ve got a lot of respect in this game. I don’t got to hit a benchmark or I shouldn’t have to. I’ve earned a right to be in closing lineups.”

Westbrook is averaging 18.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists on the season. However, the Lakers’ offensive rating drops by 2.3 points when he’s on the floor.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Beckham
John Beckham
5 months ago

And now you have deserved the right to be benched. If you didn’t have a history of playing good. I would swear you were the biggest scrum in the NBA… wake up cuz

Russell Jenkmr
Russell Jenkmr
5 months ago

The top comment was from someone who claimed Eason and Evans didn’t work.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x