Lakers News: Nets’ Kevin Durant Discusses ‘Toxic’ Criticism Of Russell Westbrook
Lakers Rumors: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook Teaming Up In L.a. ‘big Possibility’
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

NBA stars continue to come out in support of Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook after the 33-year-old guard found himself under heavy scrutiny again last week.

As the Lakers were being blown out by the Minnesota Timberwolves in their penultimate preseason game on Wednesday, a couple of viral videos emerged, showing Westbrook allegedly distancing himself from his teammates before tip-off and joining a team huddle late during the game.

The 2017 NBA MVP later explained he wasn’t near L.A.’s starting 5 as it was being presented because of his pregame routine — which hasn’t changed in years, he added. But that didn’t stop the Lakers faithful from questioning the guard’s commitment, particularly after he declared being “all in” on helping the team win.

L.A. Clippers star Paul George and ex-Laker Isaiah Thomas are only a couple of current and former NBA stars who have recently defended Westbrook amid the criticism. Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant has joined in the support of his former teammate, emphasizing the toxicity of the debate over Westbrook, via Boardroom:

“I mean Russ always did that. It feels like he was just getting his mind right, just his own routine before the game. But if you play in L.A. next to the biggest figure in sports in LeBron James, everything you do is gonna be magnified, especially if the outside perception is that your team is gonna struggled. People don’t trust that your team is gonna be good. That’s how they feel about us, the Lakers, teams that they had high hopes for last year that didn’t come through. The Lakers got a big microscope on them so you got to be on point every time. So if Russell misses a layup it’s gonna be blown out of proportion. If he misses a 3, he might be 5-for-7, but he missed those two shots, you know what I’m saying? I understand that there’s certain. points where you don’t play well and you are open to criticism when you don’t play well, we get that. But it’s like now you’re making him the bud of your jokes. It’s getting to a point where it’s like alright, I get the criticism for what he did that night, but now it’s starting to reach a different level with some shit that I don’t understand right now. So hopefully he just keeps hooping and blocks all that noise out and prove to everybody that they’re wrong about how they feel about his game and they mesh over there in L.A. But when we play them, I hope they play shitty, but I hope all that stuff works out because I hate how they talk. The dialogue around our game is just so toxic at this point. I get criticism, but it’s starting to turn into something else right now.”

Westbrook’s tendency to keep his distance isn’t a new phenomenon — it showed even in his first season with the Lakers and hence it’s unlikely to reflect on the quality of his relationships with teammates. On the other hand, head coach Darvin Ham removed the guard from the starting lineup right after the drama unfolded, using him off the bench in the preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings.

However, Ham has left the door open for Westbrook to reclaim his spot in the starting lineup.

Patrick Beverley explains why Westbrook didn’t initially join team huddle in loss to Timberwolves

Patrick Beverley was the Laker who was recorded asking his Lakers teammates to huddle up before repeatedly calling on Westbrook to join in. But in the latest episode of his new podcast, Beverley downplayed the situation, saying Westbrook was late because he was discussing the previous play with coaches and game officials.

Beverley also said the amount of scrutiny Westbrook experiences is difficult to handle — but said the Lakers guard has been “mentally solid and strong” while dealing with the adversity.

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