4-Time NBA Champion & Hall of Famer Goes Off on Lakers’ Russell Westbrook

Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook

A four-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer recently went off on Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook.

Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal spoke to Bill DiFilippo of Dime and the three-time Finals MVP said Westbrook was “just being too nice” last season. Los Angeles missed the playoffs in 2021-22 and Westbrook didn’t play particularly well. Although the one-time MVP averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists, Westbrook was second in the NBA in turnovers and posted an effective field goal percentage of only 47.6%, which was sixth-worst in the NBA.

“I don’t think it was his age. I think he was just, and I say this respectfully, I just think he was showing too much respect,” O’Neal said. “I don’t care who I’m playing with it, I’m giving you 28. Fans pay a lot of money for me to make $100 million. I’m giving you 28. It’s not, ‘Every time I get the ball, look for the other stars.’ He can play, too. So when I got the ball, I’m gonna do my thing. He was just being too nice.

“I don’t know the relationship between him and LeBron (James), but if you put that down on paper, that’s a hell of a backcourt, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Why it didn’t work, I don’t know, but watching him play, he was super passive. I don’t need you to be passive, I need you to play your game. I’ll be calling plays, when you get the ball after they miss a shot, run, if you ain’t got nothin’, pull it out, give it to LeBron, and call some plays. That’s how it was for me, he was just thinking too much. He’s a guy that, when he plays freely, he’s a monster.”

Westbrook wasn’t a good fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis last season due to his inability to hit perimeter shots. The nine-time All-Star shot only 29.8% from beyond the arc, and among 46 players to take at least 1,000 shots, Westbrook ranked 42nd in true shooting percentage.

Lakers Coach Eager to Work with Westbrook

According to a September 7th report from Ric Bucher of Fox Sports, the Lakers “have made it readily known Westbrook is available for trade.” Many members of the organization want to move on from the California native.

However, if no trade comes to fruition, new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will do his best to make it work with Westbrook, who picked up his $47.1 million player option for next season. Ham spoke to the local media on September 6th and the 49-year-old had several positive things to say about his floor general.

“Everything has been clear and upfront between he and I,” Ham said. “Like, he’s been a pleasure. I’ve been a huge fan throughout his time in the league. He’s a salt of the earth. And again, he wants to win. I want to help him get that championship ring. But it starts here. It starts today. It starts with the buy-in. It starts with supporting your teammates and supporting a vision and doing that and working your butt off day in and day out. Everyone’s quick to look at the destination but you really have to appreciate the journey and respect and embrace the journey. He’s been that since Day 1. Anytime I call him or I need him, text messages. The communication has been great both ways. He’s in here. He’s in here putting in the work. I love him and I can’t wait to coach him and I can’t wait to succeed with him.”

Shaq on Lakers

O’Neal likes the Lakers’ acquisition of Patrick Beverley. The Diesel believes there’s a simple formula for Los Angeles to win another championship with James and Davis.

“Yes, LeBron and AD stay healthy, they’ll be okay. But in order to be championship quality, they need pieces around them,” O’Neal said. “Pat Beverley is a good piece, he’s a defensive piece. Russ, I don’t know what he’s gonna do, I don’t know how they’re going to use him. But they need some dogs like Beverley, they need some rebounders, and they need some shooters. That’s all you need. It’s not rocket science. You need a floor leader, someone that’s gonna dominate consistently, every night, you need a knockdown shooter, and you need a guy that’s gonna ruffle some feathers. That’s it. That’s how you win a championship.”

Unless the Lakers make another trade, their roster heading into training camp will consist of James, Westbrook, Davis, Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV, Kendrick Nunn, Damian Jones, Wenyen Gabriel, Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Austin Reaves, Max Christie, Jay Huff, Fabian White Jr. and Javante McCoy. Cole Swider and Scotty Pippen Jr. are on two-way contracts.

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Mary Berka
Mary Berka
2 months ago

I agree with Shaq. Westbrook was way too nice to the Lakers. Not like him at all to take crap from anyone. Love Beverly too. I’m a Bucks fan. I’m from Milwaukee. Always hated the Lakers. But to see the way they treated Westbrook pissed me off.

Tom Gardner
Tom Gardner
2 months ago

not at all interested in oneills opinion. he says nothing insightful here. he’s a bore

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