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#pounditSunday, October 24, 2021

Russell Westbrook

LeBron James has message for Russell Westbrook after rough Lakers debut

Russell Westbrook warming up

Russell Westbrook looked a lot more like Russell Worstbrook during his Los Angeles Lakers debut on Tuesday. One of his star teammates is encouraging him to keep his head up though.

After the Lakers fell to the Golden State Warriors in their season opener, LeBron James revealed his message for Westbrook, who had an awful game.

“I told Russ to go home and watch a comedy,” said James, per ESPN’s Dave McMemanin. “Do something that can put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.'”

Though James and Anthony Davis both dropped 30 points each, Westbrook had significantly less success on Tuesday. He scored just eight points on 4-for-13 from the field and posted a team-worst plus-minus of -23 in a seven-point loss. Westbrook also had four turnovers and missed all four of his three-point attempts.

The former MVP Westbrook has always played the role of either Batman or Robin to this point of his NBA career. Now that he has to be the Alfred to James and Davis, some growing pains are to be expected. But Westbrook was equally terrible in the preseason, so there might be some reason for concern if he does not round into form soon.

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

Russell Westbrook has funny joke about his shooting struggles

Russell Westbrook warming up

Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” Russell Westbrook seems to agree with that assertion.

The new Los Angeles Lakers guard spoke with reporters following Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook was asked about the NBA’s new foul rules that will stop rewarding shooters for initiating contact with airborne defenders. The former MVP responded with a funny joke about his well-documented shooting struggles.

“Not for me,” he said of how hard it will be to adjust to the new rules, per Lakers Nation. “Ain’t too many people flying at me so I’ll be alright.”

Westbrook has a point in that not many defenders are going to be biting on pump fakes from a career 30.5 percent three-point shooter. In fact, most opponents are happy to go under screens and dare him to fire. Westbrook’s three-point numbers in the preseason haven’t been great either. He has started his Lakers career shooting just 5-for-20 (25 percent) from deep.

The league’s rule change will create a noticeable difference in the flow of the game and the way that ball-handlers attack defenses. But it will probably have a bigger impact on elite shooters like this guy than on brick house builders like Westbrook.

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

Frank Vogel has interesting theory for Russell Westbrook’s ugly preseason debut

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook’s much-anticipated Los Angeles Lakers debut was not a memorable one, and coach Frank Vogel thinks he knows why.

Westbrook played 17 minutes of Friday’s preseason game against the Golden State Warriors, scoring two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Westbrook also had six turnovers to only four assists.

Vogel suggested that Westbrook had tried too hard to play distributor and set up his teammates, which contributed to the turnovers.

It’s amusing in a way, as one of the concerns about Westbrook’s acquisition was that he would want the ball in his hands to the detriment of his teammates. Maybe Westbrook heard that chatter and wanted to try to disprove it early.

Given the amount of work the Lakers have been putting in behind the scenes, there’s no reason to think Westbrook and his teammates won’t be in sync when the season starts. He might just need to play his more natural game and see where it takes them.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Russell Westbrook had great response to Clippers trade proposal

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook wished his way to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason. The veteran guard wanted to be traded to the Lakers to play in his hometown, though not just any team would do.

Washington Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard went on the record Tuesday to state that Westbrook did not force a trade. Sheppard says Westbrook expressed a desire to play for the Lakers if possible. However, Westbrook had NO interest in going to the Clippers despite them playing in the same city.

“I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”

How’s that for an answer about playing with the Clippers?

The explanation for that answer should be pretty clear. Westbrook grew up a Lakers fan and was recruited to play for the Lakers. Beyond that, Paul George ditched him to go to the Clippers. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard also turned down Westbrook’s attempt to team up in 2019. Westbrook wants to show them up, not team up! And he’ll have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on his side when they meet.

Report: Bradley Beal turned down this star’s efforts to get him to request trade

Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal has been with the Washington Wizards for his entire career, and one fellow NBA star was unsuccessful in trying to get him to leave.

The Athletic’s Bill Oram, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick reported Monday that Beal’s former Wizards teammate Russell Westbrook tried to convince him that they should both ask out of Washington in the weeks before the NBA Draft this past July. Beal ultimately declined but supported Westbrook’s efforts to get to Los Angeles, the report added.

Westbrook, who ended up on the Lakers in a multi-player trade, was only with the Wizards for one season. That means that he had much less of an attachment to Washington than Beal, who was drafted by the Wizards in 2012 and has been there ever since.

The 28-year-old Beal can become a free agent next offseason by turning down his $37.3 million player option for 2022-23. While Beal might not have been interested in Westbrook’s proposal, other teams will certainly keep trying to gauge his availability.

Kwame Brown rips Russell Westbrook for wearing skirt

Kwame Brown

Russell Westbrook’s fashion choice that involved a skirt did not sit well with Kwame Brown.

Brown recently received renewed attention after ripping into Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. Next up on Brown’s target list was Stephen A. Smith.

And now Brown is taking aim at Westbrook.

Brown ranted over Westbrook wearing a skirt for a photoshoot. His entire rant is full of bad language, so beware if you listen.

“There’s two ways to go,” Brown philosophized. “You bite the apple and wear them motherf—ing dresses, like Russell Westbrook, or whatever his name is. …”

“Not no (N-word) I was ever raised up with gonna be walking down the g-d streets with a dress on and some motherf—ing boots and get my respect and say he heterosexual. Now if you gay, cool. … but when you say you a heterosexual male and that’s what you do? N-word, f— you.

“You gotta bite that apple or shut your mouth.”

That’s Kwame Brown for you.

Russell Westbrook goes viral for wearing skirt, blue hair

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook has become known for his bold fashion choices over his career. On Saturday, he went viral for perhaps the boldest clothing style he has worn.

Westbrook posted photos on social media showing himself wearing a skirt and blue hair.

In his posts, Westbrook quoted rapper Kendrick Lamar, saying “don’t address me unless it four letters.”

In addition to the long skirt and blue hair, Westbrook was wearing a pearl necklace and boots. His clothing and accessories are traditionally worn by women.

Westbrook’s clothing photo comes at a time when gender and identity have become hot topics across the country. Westbrook appears to be entering the debate.

His controversial photoshoot reminds me somewhat of one another former Lakers guard did that sparked debate several years ago.

Westbrook has gone viral over the years for various outfits.

Here is a recap:
Video: Russell Westbrook’s hilarious sideline outfit gets roasted by announcers
Russell Westbrook photographer outfit becomes a meme
Russell Westbrook poncho outfit gets the meme treatment
Russell Westbrook dressed like a red Teletubbie
Russell Westbrook wore a leopard print shirt and spiky shoes to fashion week

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Oscar Robertson says Russell Westbrook should have won MVP last season

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook has normalized triple-doubles in the NBA, and his spiritual predecessor thinks that has led to Westbrook being overlooked.

Retired basketball legend Oscar Robertson appeared this week on “The Knuckleheads” podcast. Robertson said during the episode that he believes Westbrook should have won MVP last season with the Washington Wizards.

“I look at Westbrook, and he got triple-doubles this year and no one even noticed it, they didn’t think it was such a big deal,” said the 82-year-old Robertson, per NBC Sports Washington. “I think that’s totally unfair. I think he should have won [MVP] again. If he [averaged] a triple-double again, and he didn’t win [MVP], so why keep stats then?”

Westbrook won the only MVP of his career in 2017 after becoming the first player since Robertson in 1962 to average a triple-double for an entire season. That led to a special bond between the two men.

Since then, Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for a whole season three more different times. That includes this year when he averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists per game. But the public seems much less impressed by that feat now, and Westbrook finished just 11th in MVP voting. Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who himself flirted with a triple-double average, took home the award for 2021.

Truth be told, Westbrook probably did not have that strong of an argument for winning MVP on the sub-.500 Wizards next to an elite backcourt partner in Bradley Beal. But Robertson’s greater point remains — do not disregard the historic nature of what Westbrook continues to accomplish statistically.

Report: Isaiah Thomas worked out with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook

Isaiah Thomas

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to add a point guard to their roster and are considering a few candidates. One player may actually have the lead in the race.

Isaiah Thomas worked out with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on Tuesday, according to Chris B. Haynes. Haynes reports that the team has also worked out Mike James and Darren Collison. The report says that no signing is imminent.

The Lakers have 12 players under guaranteed contracts. They plan to carry 14 players on their active roster rather than the maximum of 15. They want a third point guard and possibly a wing player to fill out those two spots.

Thomas, 32, last played a full season in 2016-2017. He has since been bothered by a hip injury that required surgery. Thomas had an abbreviated NBA comeback last season, making three total appearances for the New Orleans Pelicans on a 10-day contract. He showed his skills recently though by scoring 81 points in a Pro-Am game. During his peak, the veteran point guard was a two-time All-Star for the Celtics.

Collison, who turns 34 next week, retired after the 2018-2019 season. As of a year ago, he was still considering a return to the NBA. The Southern California native and former UCLA guard was even rumored to be considering playing for the Lakers or Clippers.

James, 30, appeared in 13 games last season for the Brooklyn Nets. He has the least NBA experience of the three players but is the youngest.

Westbrook and LeBron working out one player seems to be an indication that he may have the inside track. There is also one other detail that seems to work in Thomas’ favor.

LeBron James responds to Russell Westbrook skeptics

LeBron James

LeBron James is officially in the lab with his new teammate, and he definitely likes what he sees.

The Los Angeles Lakers star posted a series of pictures to Instagram on Saturday of a workout that he had with former MVP and newest Laker Russell Westbrook. In his caption, James responded to the Westbrook skeptics, particularly those questioning Westbrook’s fit with the team.

“Work with the Brodie!” James wrote. “I agree I don’t think this will work @russwest44. You different by the way.”

James also included a “cap” emoji after the part where he said that he didn’t think that it would work with Westbrook.

Westbrook arrived on the Lakers this summer in a trade with the Washington Wizards. He was previously teammates with James on the United States Olympic team that won gold at the 2012 London Games.

Many do not think that Westbrook will be a good fit with James and the Lakers due to his inefficiency, lack of off-ball activity, and overall chaotic style of play. But Westbrook seems very happy to be in Los Angeles, and James seems very happy to have him as well.