The potential of LeBron James’ partnership with Russell Westbrook made for one of the biggest mysteries revolving around the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2021-22 season.
Westbrook went through a tough beginning of his career with the Lakers, committing plenty of turnovers and failing to develop the necessary in-game chemistry with James and Anthony Davis. The four-time NBA champion’s continuous breaks from basketball didn’t help L.A.’s Big 3 figure out how to best complement each other.
Even though Westbrook has made adjustments in recent weeks, showing he can utilize his unique skillet in a way that benefits the Lakers, some still question his compatibility with the Purple and Gold’s superstars — particularly with James.
After an Eastern Conference executive likened the 2017 NBA MVP’s attitude to Allen Iverson’s, the Lakers guard dismissed the comparison and added some interesting perspective on how vital winning a championship is to his career, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“Russ reminds me of Allen Iverson, wanting to win but wanting to win on his terms,” one Eastern Conference executive told ESPN. “If he can take a step back and win in L.A., it will validate everything else he’s done in the league.”
Westbrook, when informed of the Iverson parallel, pushed back.
“I disagree for multiple reasons,” Westbrook told ESPN. “No. 1, I believe that I am a one-of-a-kind player, and I respect Allen and respect everything he’s done for the game, but I’m not comparable to Allen Iverson by any means. No. 2, is that I’ve been probably — I feel, myself — always trying to fit in to do the best for the betterment of the team. And I’ve always done that in my career, and I’ll continue to do that and whatever happens, happens. If we win a championship, cool. If we don’t, I’m OK with that too and life goes on.”
Iverson will forever be known as one of the most talented players in NBA history, although his reluctance to compromise on his role for the betterment of the team is well-documented. Just as are his disagreements with coaches and front office members of the teams he played for, which often led to the guard’s departure.
James says his partnership with Westbrook can improve in ‘every area’
James is aware that L.A. can still get more out of the spells during which he shares the floor with Westbrook. The 36-year-old forward believes time is an ally when it comes to the All-Star duo figuring out its potential.
“I believe every area we got to continue to work on,” James said at Monday’s practice. “We’ve only been in half the games, I haven’t played in three straight games all season, which is weird obviously, but it is what it is. In order for us to know what we do best for not only each other, but for the betterment of the team, you have to log those minutes.
“You have to log those games and we haven’t had enough games together to know exactly what’s gonna work the best for our team.”
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!