Although the Los Angeles Lakers managed to end their conference semifinal showdown with the Houston Rockets in dominant fashion, the series did not lack for excitement and on-court playoff drama.
It came as no surprise to see Russell Westbrook was among the main facilitators in ensuring that tensions were high. Despite his underwhelming performance, Westbrook never struggled to make his presence felt thanks to his trash talk to those both on and off the court.
From Lakers players to the brother of Rajon Rondo, there was even a point where LeBron James shared some playful jabs with Westbrook after the latter implored his opponents to double-team him.
It appears James is all too familiar with what to expect when squaring off against the 2017 NBA MVP. Westbrook caught some flak for his antics while clearly struggling during a game that was was already well out of reach for the Rockets.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, James shared high praise for his approach the game:
“That’s Russ. That’s my guy. I love that dude,” James told Yahoo Sports. “He plays with so much passion that it’s crazy.”
James has gotten well-acquainted with Westbrook as both a fellow competitor in the NBA and teammate for the United States Olympic team. His comments only help further solidify the notion indicate that the latter has never been one to tone down the intensity due to the circumstances.
While James doesn’t not appear to have any hard feelings over what transpired during the series, it is safe to say that Westbrook may need some time to recuperate after watching his opponents get the last laugh following a frustrating series.
LeBron embracing chance to restore franchise
With the Lakers are now shifting gears toward their first Western Conference Finals appearance following a 10-year drought, James finds himself in familiar territory just one series away from another NBA Finals appearance.
The three-time champ was well-aware of the expectations that came with his arrival in Los Angeles. Fortunately, James acknowledged that the onus is on him to maintain this standard.
“I know what my name comes with, and it comes with winning,” James said. “I take that responsibility to the utmost than anything, because I am a winner and I’ve always been a winner from the first time I ever played organized basketball.”
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