Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has faced a tremendous amount of pressure in 2021-22, which has only intensified since the turn of the year.
Westbrook has averaged 15.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists, shooting 39.5% from the floor and 23% from beyond the arc in 2022. The 2017 NBA MVP has also been benched twice in crunch time, leading to tensions with head coach Frank Vogel.
Still, Westbrook said he isn’t going to give up on pursuing success with the Lakers this year, even though they closed the last 20-game stretch of the season with a 6-14 record following Thursday’s loss to the L.A. Clippers.
“[Westbrook’s priorities] don’t drastically change, but what I’m doing is changing every single night so I’m just trying to figure that out as I’m playing to be able to benefit and help my team,” he said.
“But my expectations are still the same, I’m not a quitter, it’s not in my genes. I don’t quit regardless of what the hell is going on. I’m a fighter until the end and if it don’t work, that’s cool, I can live with the results. But I’m never gonna give up or give in because of a little struggle that’s happening this time of the year.”
Westbrook explained he approached the current season having no expectations for its eventual outcome, setting his mind on finding the best way to fit in.
“I come into every season the same,” he said. “The last four years, I’ve been on different teams four times, so my vision wasn’t that everything was gonna be peaches and creme, that’s not life. So for me, I come into every situation, start from ground zero and try to figure it out along the way.
“I have no expectations of how things will work, how many times I have the ball or what position I’m gonna play, I just try to find ways to best help my teammates and that’s about it.”
Westbrook added the Lakers should ignore the outside noise and focus only on the next game moving forward, hoping their form will improve along the way.
“Right now, just take it one day at a time,” he said. “Try to find ways to be able to put one win together, one possession, one half, one quarter. It’s as simple as that. We just got to chip away, that’s it.”
Westbrook deals with pressure by spending time with family
Westbrook explained he decompresses by spending quality time with his family, which he said is the thing in life he values the most.
“I go lay down, wake up and take my kids to school,” he said. “That’s the most important thing is family to me, so being around my family is probably the most important thing I can do. Basketball is fun, but it’s a short period of time in your life so I don’t stress out too much about it because my family is the most important thing in my life.
“So that’s the way I can kind of just decompress and have my focus elsewhere.”
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