Lakers Video: Magic Johnson Gives Advice To Russell Westbrook Amid Struggles
Magic Johnson, Lakers
Earvin “Magic” Johnson takes questions from journalists outside the Historic Capitol after a roundtable discussion about student athletes’ mental health Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

Russell Westbrook’s time with the Los Angeles Lakers hasn’t been any less tumultuous in 2022-23 with the issues amplified by the team’s poor 0-3 start to the season.

Westbrook averages 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists through the first three games of the new campaign, shooting 28.9% from the field and a shocking 8.3% from beyond the arc. The 2017 NBA MVP found himself under particularly heavy scrutiny after L.A.’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday when his questionable shot attempt late in the fourth quarter allowed the Blazers to regain the lead and snatch the win.

Many former and current NBA players have come to Westbrook’s defense, saying the 33-year-old guard has been unfairly criticized for the Purple and Gold’ struggles this season. However, Lakers legend Magic Johnson told Shannon Sharpe on the “Club Shay Shay” podcast Westbrook’s criticism partly stems from the guard’s lack of accountability:

Sharpe and Johnson recalled how the five-time NBA champion earned the nickname “Tragic Magic” after underperforming in the 1984 Finals loss to the Boston Celtics.

“When I didn’t perform well in ’84 against the Celtics, I admitted that. I took accountability,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘Hey, I didn’t perform well. I was the reason why the Lakers lost that series.’ And I had to say to myself I’ve got to get better.

“So what did I do? I went out that whole summer I trained hard and got better, and then we played them again in ’85. Man, I was on fire. We won. You didn’t hear that no more.”

Johnson added even LeBron James had to earn the Lakers faithful’s unconditional support and he did so by delivering on his promise to bring the title to L.A. in 2019-20.

The Lakers icon also questioned Westbrook’s body language, saying the guard should change his attitude on the court — including his tendency to argue with the officials instead of paying attention to the events of the game.

James not willing to criticize Westbrook’s poor shot selection

James and Anthony Davis seemed perplexed when Westbrook decided to fire that late mid-range jumper against the Blazers just six seconds into the possession with 0:30 left on the clock and the Lakers up by one.

However, James refused to publicly criticize his teammate’s shot selection after the game.

“I feel like this is an interview trying to set me up to say something,” he said. “I can tell that you guys are in the whole Russell Westbrook category right now.

“I don’t like to lose, I hate to lose at anything. I don’t care what happens throughout the course of my season or my career. I hate to lose, especially the way we had this game. But give credit to Portland. You guys can write about Russ and all the things you want to try to talk about Russ. But I’m not up here to do that. I won’t do it, I’ve said it over and over, that it’s not who I am.”

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