Over the past week, the biggest story surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers has been the immense shooting struggles of Russell Westbrook. In his last four games, Westbrook is averaging 10.5 points per game on 25.4% from the field and 0-for-7 from three.
In that time, he’s had what many would consider an ideal shot chart for Westbrook’s skillset. A majority of his attempts have come from within the paint, with decreasing frequency as he gets farther away from the rim. He’s also turned the ball over just four times in that span.
To be playing a relatively ideal game and still be struggling to help his team absolutely could be seen as frustrating. But following another tough performance in a loss to the Sacramento Kings, Westbrook was surprisingly energetic in his postgame press conference.
Instead of short and simple answers, Westbrook made jokes about his shooting woes and even had some fun at the expense of the Kings for their “Cold as ice” gimmick during the game. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Westbrook’s positive attitude stems from finally getting to be around family each and every day:
“Yeah, man, (he’s happy because) I get to see my kids, my family, my mom, my dad,” he told The Athletic while he headed for the team bus. “To me, that’s more important than anything else. I’m able to be home and be able to embrace them. They get to see me, and as they get older I get to see my kids every day and take them to school every morning. To me, that brings joy.”
Basketball undoubtedly means plenty to Westbrook given all that he’s been able to achieve in his Hall of Fame career. However, his move to L.A. was about more than just basketball, even if playing for his hometown Lakers was a massive appeal.
“I swear, nobody can imagine it for me because everybody thinks about basketball as the end-all-be-all, but it’s really not, you know?” he continued. “Sportswriters, everybody’s got their own opinion. But I really believe that me being able to do (be in LA) and embrace my kids, it makes them — it puts a smile on my face regardless of what’s happening now.”
So while the Lakers may have had second thoughts about this pairing, in other words, he has not.
“No,” he said when asked if he had any regrets about the move. “Nah. I mean, not at all, because — like I told you — it’s bigger than basketball for me.”
With these quotes, Westbrook isn’t attempting to deflect or change the subject away from his poor shooting. He simply wants it known that being in L.A. with his family while playing for the Lakers is more important than any on-court achievement.
It’s a sentiment that many players likely feel. LeBron James chose to come to the Lakers — in part — because he wanted his family to live in L.A. Family is a driving force for many major decisions made by professional athletes.
Of course, Westbrook and the entire Lakers organization hope that his shooting woes end and that he can be an impactful player on a potential championship team. But if all else fails, he takes comfort in the fact that he can go home to his family at the end of the day.
Westbrook looking at fan criticism as a positive
Westbrook has built a reputation as one of the most polarizing players in all of basketball. And while that does lead to plenty of public criticism, .
“It is what it is,” Westbrook said. “I think for me I look at it in a positive way and I look at it like this. Since I’ve been in the league, every arena, fans, whoever they joke… I take it as a compliment because if I wasn’t out here and I haven’t done anything in this game they wouldn’t even pay no mind at me or pay no mind to what I’m doing or how I’m doing it.
“I look at it as a positive light because if they’re so concerned about what I’m doing it, how I’m doing it and when I’m doing it. I’m doing something right in this game and I’ll continue to keep my head up and keep my ‘why not’ mindset. Keep using this game to be able to do other things and it’s simple as that.”
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