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#pounditThursday, May 19, 2022

Ex-Laker Nick Young offers strange defense of Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook warming up

Russell Westbrook might be the single most hated man in Los Angeles right now. But Westbrook need not worry because he has one mighty ally in his corner: Swaggy P.

Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young took to Instagram over the weekend to react to Lakers fans having made a diss track aimed at Westbrook, who has struggled mightily for the Lakers this season.

“That’s why they losing because ppl show hate more [than] love,” Young wrote. “This man Russ is a first ballot Hall of Famer and y’all been talking about him like he Tony Snell lol no disrespect.”

The remark about Snell, the Blazers swingman, appears to be in reference to a popular Internet meme. While he has had a lengthy career as a role player, fans joke that Snell never does anything on the court, stemming from a time that he put up all zeroes during a game in 2017.

The stray shot at Snell aside, Young’s defense of Westbrook is an odd one, as he is essentially arguing that Westbrook’s past greatness should excuse his current woes. But the truth is any great player would face the same criticism for doing what Westbrook is doing right now. Kobe Bryant got criticized late in his career for hurting the efficiency and the development of the Lakers at the time. Michael Jordan faced criticism for perceived grandstanding over the Washington Wizards when he came out of retirement. The same was true for Magic Johnson when he returned to the Lakers in 1996. Meanwhile, players like Vince Carter and (even further back) Bill Walton got celebrated for transitioning gracefully from leading man to supporting cast member.

Westbrook is actively hurting the Lakers right now with his stubbornness and continued reckless style in spite of no longer being MVP-caliber. That much is obvious when you consider that the Lakers are still under .500 over halfway into the season despite the elite recent play of LeBron James. Both things can be true that Westbrook is a first ballot Hall of Famer and that he deserves criticism for causing damage to the Lakers this year. Even former Lakers besides Young have been calling out Westbrook for his poor play.

Photo: Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook prior to the preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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