Russell Westbrook found himself under heavy scrutiny during his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, which ended without postseason basketball.
Doubts over Westbrook’s fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis appeared more and more justified as the 2021-22 season went on. Also, injuries to James and Davis prevented the superstar trio from improving chemistry between them.
The Lakers’ poor performance only added to the already high pressure that fell on Westbrook from the moment he signed with L.A. and returned to his native California. But the 33-year-old guard said he didn’t feel extra pressure upon his arrival — adding he welcomes pressure, because a lack of it makes him “too relaxed at times.”
Instead, the California native enjoyed being close to his family. “A lot of times when I was in other places, I didn’t have all my family, but I was really focused on, you know, locked in on different things and … so there was no pressure, extra added pressure from there,” Westbrook said during his exit interview.
However, the 2017 NBA MVP said he didn’t appreciate “the reception he got from people here,” including Lakers fans.
“I would probably say the only thing that was a problem or issue was with just the reception I got from people here and for any reason whatever that may be, you know,” Westbrook said.
“Whether it’s the fans or whatever, wasn’t so great but, you know, that’s not up to me to judge of any sort. Just kinda came to work, did my job, and try to find ways to be able to make myself a better player as a season prolong.”
Westbrook wasn’t sure what Frank Vogel’s issue was with him
Westbrook spent a big chunk of the interview talking about his inability to be himself in L.A. That included his tense relationship with former head coach Frank Vogel who, the guard thought, questioned his capabilities throughout the season.
Westbrook said he didn’t understand why he couldn’t bond with Vogel.
“I’m not sure what his issue was with me,” he said. “I can’t really give you an answer why… we never really connected maybe? That’s something that he has to answer. From the get-go, was feeling like I was having to try to prove myself to him and my capabilities, and what I’ve been able to do for this game.
“And, it’s unfortunate, but it’s really … kind of out of my hands.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!