I’ve been watching LeBron James throughout his entire Laker tenure and I whole heartedly understand why he chose to bring over Russell Westbrook. Rob Pelinka could’ve signed DeMar DeRozan who is playing at an MVP level for the Chicago Bulls giving us Kobe Bryant vibes with his high-scoring outputs and insane skill-set from the the post or sharp-shooter Buddy Hield who would’ve been a more logical fit alongside point-forward LeBron James who flourishes with the more floor-spacing he has at his disposal. I remember the narrative of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James possibly not working out because they were both ball dominant and both considered average shooters and they managed to go to 4 straight finals and win back to back titles in Miami.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a superstar receive the amount of criticism and backlash Russ has dealt with this season, it’s insane that NBA fans around the world really thought bringing over John Wall would save the Lakers up and down campaign so far. Anyone who has followed Russ understands it took the Rockets and Wizards sometime before they finally hit a stride with Russ and although both teams took early exits in the playoffs it wasn’t because of Russell Westbrook. What I enjoyed about basketball in the late 1990’s and 2000’s was the fact that we weren’t bombarded with all sorts of rumors because smart phones were not available and we also didn’t have sports commentators such as Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith degrading player’s for falling short in their quest for a ring. Russell Westbrook is a legend in my eyes, I sat there and watched Stephen A. Smith gloss at every failure Russ has had in his NBA career and paint him out to be a loser who won’t ever win a championship.
Yes the Los Angeles Lakers at 27-31 and I still believe they will hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of this season even if LeBron dominated All-Star weekend with rumors of a possible comeback to the Cleveland Cavaliers after complimenting the team’s core players at the moment in Darius Garland,Evan Mobley,and Jarrett Allen. We can sit here and point fingers at Anthony Davis all we want for not being able to stay on the court and playing at the MVP level former teammate Jared Dudley expected from him but AD is who he is, he belongs as Robin to LeBron’s Batman. Russell Westbrook is the real key, 6’3″ 200 pounds with a 6’8″ wingspan, it’s all a matter of how much Westbrook will look to use his physical gifts to his advantage as a defender and how bad does he want to win.
If I was Rob Pelinka I would’ve traded for Russell Westbrook as well judging by how much energy the Lakers lacked in the first round against the Phoenix Suns last season and how reliant they were on LeBron James as a play-maker in the bubble. Rajon Rondo was able to make up for the absence of Avery Bradley’s defense and he also hit a lot of crucial shots for the Lakers which was not something I was expecting. He was also able to keep the Laker offense afloat while LeBron took a breather which was something they sorely lacked after Anthony Davis went down in last year’s first round series. Russell Westbrook can carry an offense, he might get ahead of himself and forget defenders can swipe the ball away from him from behind but the man has vision on the court and is still one of the best all-around guards in the league whenever he wants to be. It’s like LeBron’s former teammate said, be who you are when LeBron and Davis are not on the floor and pick your spots.
In conclusion, I partially agree with Dwyane Wade’s comments but I’d say Russell Westbrook needs to be himself when LeBron James is not on the court he should have no problem playing his game with Anthony Davis since you have to get him the ball in a half-court setting or fast-break opportunity where Russ can control the action and not have to worry about passing it off to LeBron. Russell Westbrook seems level headed in interviews and isn’t at the edge of snapping at reporters like year’s past, he’s been supportive by consulting LeBron and AD to keep their heads up after a reality check defeat at the hands of Giannis Antetokoumpo’s Milwaukee Bucks a week ago. The moment I saw Westbrook elected to leave the Washington Wizards I was surprised, I thought him and Brad were going to be teammates for quite sometime in DC based off Beal’s high praise for Russ as a teammate but I guess Russ felt it was time to win. Maybe he overheard Stephen A. Smith’s tirade on his career in the NBA, I’ll tell you this much if you bet against the Lakers going into this second half get ready to make a run to your local bank, till next time.