The fan base of the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the most passionate and outspoken there is in all of professional sports around the world.
The fans expect greatness at all times and have no issues calling out anyone who they feel is hurting the team. With the team failing to meet expectations this season, much of that fan anger has pointed towards new point guard Russell Westbrook.
Many were skeptical of the Lakers acquiring the divisive point guard during the offseason, being unsure how Westbrook’s game would mesh with that of LeBron James. Those concerns have come to fruition throughout the season as often times his turnovers, shooting struggles, and defensive issues have cancelled out the positive effects he has in the eyes of the fans.
After another rough shooting night in the Lakers’ loss to the Kings, Westbrook revealed that he doesn’t hate the fan criticism he receives, but rather views it as a compliment.
“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.”
This is an interesting mindset to have and Westbrook isn’t wrong in that if he was an unknown player on a minimum contract he wouldn’t get anywhere near the criticism he does. But he is a multi-time All-Star making $44 million, and he earned that money, so Lakers fans expect that level of greatness from him.
But despite all of the scrutiny, Westbrook remains confident in both himself and this Lakers team.
“My confidence never wavers regardless of scrutiny, regardless of what is said. That’s been my whole career,” Westbrook added. “It doesn’t matter every year there’s always a conversation of if and what and how and when. And we have the group here that’s able to do it. Once we all kind of get together and put some stretches of games together and staying healthy, we can kind of see what we can really do as we kind of move this season along. We’re at the halfway point now, but as we get to the playoffs, I believe we can do something special.”
There have been few signs of sustained levels of high play from this Lakers team, but they also have yet to be at full strength. If and when they are able to do so, Westbrook maintains his belief that the Lakers will be great, and the rest of the team feels the same way.
James says Westbrook must ‘keep working’ to break slump
The start of 2022 hasn’t been kind to Westbrook as he is shooting just 29.3% from the field in the month of January and has yet to hit a 3-pointer. But James believes the point guard must simply continue to put in the work.
“Just keep working,” James said. “Obviously you just put in the work and trust the work that you put it. He’s getting some really good looks, they’re just not going down for him.”
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!