Russell Westbrook is one of the league’s most polarizing players. Some view him as a stat-padding ball hog who prioritizes his own triple-doubles ahead of winning. Others see him as a misunderstood enigma who simply hasn’t been utilized correctly over the course of his NBA run.
This week, in a conversation with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, one Eastern Conference executive compared Westbrook’s game to Allen Iverson’s.
“Russ reminds me of Allen Iverson, wanting to win but wanting to win on his terms,” the exec said. “If he can take a step back and win in L.A., it will validate everything else he’s done in the league.”
On Thursday, Westbrook was asked about that comparison. His response was telling.
“I disagree for multiple reasons,” Westbrook told McMenamin.
“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.”
The 13-13 Lakers are in a rough place right now. They badly need to figure out a way to win, but Westbrook is simply a poor fit with the existing roster. In a blowout loss to a shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies squad on Thursday, the Lakers turned the ball over 22 times. Those mental errors resulted in 27 points for Memphis. And who led the way for LA in turnovers? Westbrook, of course, with six.
After the fact, Westbrook remained defiant.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 10, 2021
At a certain point, something is going to need to give. The Lakers have been linked to a fairly blockbuster trade involving Westbrook and Ben Simmons. It could be their last chance to salvage this season.
If they don’t, and if Westbrook remains on the roster, this group could go down as the most disappointing super team of all time.