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Report details issues between Frank Vogel, Russell Westbrook

Frank Vogel looking on

Though not nearly on the level of Latrell Sprewell and PJ Carlesimo, more details about one of the NBA’s more toxic player-coach relationships of recent years are coming into focus.

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times released an in-depth look Friday at what exactly went wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers’ catastrophe of a 2021-22 season. One of the dynamics they examined was Russell Westbrook’s relationship with head coach Frank Vogel.

The piece quoted an anonymous Lakers staff member, who revealed that Westbrook never respected Vogel from the very beginning. The report also included a story about how Westbrook openly contradicted Vogel during the early stages of training camp.

“Russ never respected Frank [Vogel] from Day 1,” the staffer was quoted as saying. “The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run.’ Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker]. We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik [Monk]. We have LeBron. We have AD [Anthony Davis]. They can all bring the ball up.’ [Westbrook] was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s—. Everybody get out the way.’

“From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap,” the staffer added. “[Because] now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”

The Woike-Turner piece shares several other insights about Westbrook, Vogel, and other key factors within the Lakers that helped doom their season. Here is the link to read it in full.

Though Vogel was able to get through to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, even winning a championship with them in 2020, Vogel never seemed to do so with Westbrook. The ex-MVP Westbrook was a poor fit in Vogel’s offense from the get-go. When Vogel finally decided to briefly bench Westbrook a few months into the season, the veteran guard lobbed some public shots Vogel’s way.

It is worth noting that Vogel is just the fourth full-time head coach that Westbrook has had throughout his 14 years in the NBA. While Westbrook was able to get along with some of those coaches (like Scott Brooks), he also clashed with others besides Vogel.

Photo: Oct 10, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel during the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


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