Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook played together on the Washington Wizards for one season.
The pair was able to make a late run at the NBA playoffs in 2021, but that wasn’t enough to save the partnership.
In the following offseason, Washington traded Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers – where he has struggled mightily.
This week, in a conversation with Draymond Green, Beal offered some blunt thoughts on his old teammate and his LA woes.
“That s*** pisses me off. I ain’t gone lie, bro,” Beal remarked of the negativity Westbrook has gotten this year.
“It really frustrates me, especially being a guy that played with him. The disrespect, that s*** gotta stop, bro. It’s gotta stop because we acting like this man is not a Hall of Famer. First ballot.
“The way he plays may not be your cup of tea,” Beal continued.
“It may not be … [But] Russ is going to go play winning basketball, Russ is going to go get rebounds, Russ is going to make assists, Russ is going to take advantage of matchups he feels like he can. That’s Russ. He’s gonna play 100 miles an hour, he’s gonna play hard. If that’s not your cup of tea, don’t watch him. It’s been working his whole career, you’re gonna change him in Year 14?”
Obviously Beal sticking up for his former teammate is commendable, but acting like the criticism Westbrook has gotten is unwarranted is definitely odd. It’s the same thing Westbrook’s wife has done – which was also a headscratcher.
Westbrook is catching flak because he’s bad right now. His Box Plus/Minus this year is -2.2 — the seventh worst in NBA history. It puts him in the elite company of Mike Mitchell’s 1985-86 campaign and Chris Kaman’s 2009-10 showing.
At one point in the season he strung together a three-game stretch where he amassed 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting from the field, 6 points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field, and 8 points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field. In that span, he was shooting an eye-popping 20 percent.
This isn’t just in people’s heads. And it’s not just fan backlash. Other guys around the NBA, Westbrook’s own contemporaries, are routinely clowning and disrespecting him.
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 26, 2022
And rather than take responsibility for his issues, Westbrook deflects. He beefs with Lakers coaches, defiantly insists that he deserves to be a starter and irritates LeBron James in as many ways as possible.
Part of the reason why he is comfortable doing so is because players like Beal enable him.
Westbrook was once upon a time a great talent. But now he’s washed. And pretending like he isn’t doesn’t make it so.