A few things that are unavoidable in 2022: pandemic discourse, Zendaya/Tom Holland PDA and Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook slander. Despite the fact that the team has been dealing with injuries all season and that almost every player has been criticized for their effort on the court, Westbrook has become a convenient fall guy for this season’s disappointments.
The point guard has not had an easy past couple of seasons. He’s been on four different teams in four years, often facing criticism from fans in each city. This summer was no different, when he was met with the high expectations Lakers fans always put on their players. Now, he’s become an easy target for those frustrated with the team.
What started off as childish taunts reached concerning levels when Westbrook’s wife, Nina wrote on her Twitter that she and her family have been the target of obscenities and death wishes:
When I’m being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I’m having obscenity’s and death wishes for me and my family sent my way because you’re expressing your “truth”, it’s hard for me to get on board with that.
— Nina Westbrook (@ninawestbrook) March 7, 2022
Nina went as far as calling out media personality Skip Bayless by name, saying that he should apologize to Westbrook. She said Bayless is responsible for coining the term, “Westbrick,” which frustrated fans have started using to criticize the point guard.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who himself is no stranger to fan taunting, told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he supports Westbrook in the light of this season:
“The fan perspective, it is kind of B.S. when it crosses the line in terms of attacking somebody personally, their name, and not keeping it to just basketball,” Curry said. “That’s why we’re all here is because of basketball. But at the end of the day, you have to do what you have to do to speak up for yourself and also understand that the guys that know what’s going on in this league respect the type of player he is. Russ definitely has my support.”
This is hardly the first time fans have overstepped the relationship between player and viewer. Just less than a year ago, a man was banned from Madison Square Garden after spitting on Atlanta Hawks star Trey Young. That same week, a fan dumped popcorn on an injured Westbrook at a Washington Wizards playoff game. A few years prior, a spectator walked onto the court and started shouting in Westbrook’s face while he was playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Clearly, Westbrook knows how ugly fans can get. The fact that he’s being affected by a season of name-calling and taunting shows things don’t have to reach extreme levels for it to take a toll on players. Westbrook has gone into detail about how the season has distressed his family, saying that he doesn’t want them to attend games anymore.
Curry emphasized that the “real ones” who are in the league themselves (i.e. not trolling through Twitter) have respect for Westbrook:
“I told him when we played them in L.A. a couple of days ago that I respect how he’s handled the whole year, just in terms of everything he’s been saying and how he’s been handling himself and protecting his family,” Curry said. “It is the nature of the beast. And in a certain perspective, they build you up to break you down. The real ones who have done amazing things in this league know what that means. He’s a professional, and I’m proud of the way he’s conducting himself, and I’m there for him.”
Curry and Westbrook have been somewhat rivals over the last decade as two of the NBA’s best point guards, so to see the former put that aside to show support for the latter is really cool.
Johnson, Vogel also support Westbrook
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