Damian Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA today. Although he has obviously had a very disappointing and injury-hampered 2021-22 campaign, at his best, few can rival his talent and skill level.
Because Lillard is so good already, he can speak with a certain level of authority on other top-tier players in the league.
And that is precisely what he did this week.
In a conversation with Shannon Sharpe, Lillard gave his unfiltered thoughts on the struggles Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook has experienced this year.
“If I had to tell him (Westbrook) anything, I would just tell him face the music with it,” Lillard said.
“The criticism, it’s going to happen and you’re playing in one of the biggest markets, so I would just face it. Whatever the questions y’all ask me, whether I think it’s a dumb question or something that is self-explanatory or whatever, just face it and deal with it.”
As far as Lillard is concerned, Westbrook’s track record speaks for itself.
“Russell Westbrook’s career and legacy is undeniable,” Lillard continued. “That’s just the bottom line. The player, the career he’s had, what he’s accomplished, the things that he’s done, nobody else has been able to do it. With all these triple-doubles – I don’t care if you stat chasing or whatever people wanna say.
“If I try to go every game and get a triple-double for a whole season, I can’t do it. And there’s a lot of other people that can’t do it either. That’s hard in itself to actually do it, whether you’re trying to, to do it or not.”
As far as Lillard can tell, it just feels like people are trying to kick Westbrook while he is down.
“It’s easy to, to kick somebody when they’re down and all that,” Lillard added. “But if I had to tell him something, I would just face it and just deal with it. But I do think it’s gone to the extreme, as far as it’s almost like people see something that they think everybody’s going agree with if they just talk shit about Russell Westbrook. So everybody’s just throwing they stuff at ’em and saying, you know, it’s going overboard at this point, in my opinion, like it is just crazy to me.”
Lillard’s analysis of the situation is far more balanced and thoughtful than the one offered by Bradley Beal just last week. It’s hard to dispute any of his points.
Often lost in this conversation is the fact that it isn’t just fans being hard on Westbrook these days. Other NBA players, Westbrook’s own contemporaries, are openly mocking and ridiculing him.
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 29, 2022
It’s not just the Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpes of the world.
Hopefully at some point before he retires Westbrook can get his career back on track. Because, like Lillard said, given his legacy – it’d be really sad if this is what he became remembered for.