Darvin Ham’s decision to bring Russell Westbrook off the bench in the Los Angeles Lakers’ final preseason game against the Sacramento Kings caused ripples around the league.
Westbrook has been a starter since the middle of his rookie year, but after his underwhelming season last year, a move to the bench seemed to make the most sense. However, the experiment was short-lived as the guard tweaked his hamstring and five minutes in and missed the remainder of the contest.
Westbrook addressed the situation, citing coming off the bench as a reason for the injury. Ham revealed he and Westbrook discussed it and eventually moved past it.
“Well, first and foremost, let me be clear with this, the Lakers, myself and my staff. We in no shape, no way shape or form would ever put anybody, player and employee in harm’s way, be it physically, mentally, spiritually. We don’t stand for that. We’re not about that. That’s not who we are,” Ham said before Thursday’s game against the L.A. Clippers.
“Second of all, Russ and I discussed what was out there. Brief discussion. We moved on with that understanding. And again, as the coach of this team, my staff and I will do what’s best for our team to be as successful as we can. And I’ll just leave it at that.”
Ham added that he understands why it’s important to Westbrook to start but emphasized that he’ll need to sacrifice in order to help the team win.
“Respect and routine. He’s been around a long time, he’s been a high-level player for a very long time. So, I know what that’s about and how it is. But on the other hand, you have to be prepared to do whatever your team needs you to do. And that’s called being a professional. And so … there has to be a willingness there to sacrifice for the team and overall good of the team. That course of action is going to lead to success.”
So far, Westbrook has started the Lakers’ first two contests of the 2022-23 season, but they’ve yet to win a game. If the losing continues, then Ham may be forced to move his former MVP back to the bench so Westbrook will have to learn to make that adjustment.
Russell Westbrook responds to Charles Barkley’s comments about loss of joy
Media people like Charles Barkley have called for Los Angeles to trade Westbrook because he believes the veteran has lost his joy for the game of basketball. However, Westbrook responded by saying he’s been leaning on his faith and is focused on continuing to do what he does both on and off the court.
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