Needless to say, the decision by the Los Angeles Lakers to bring Russell Westbrook to his hometown hasn’t gone well.
It’s now much more likely that the team misses the play-in tournament than it is likely they make it, following their 114-111 loss the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. The loss came with the returns of Anthony Davis (out since Feb. 16) and LeBron James (missed last two games), with the two showing little signs of rust with 61 combined points.
Although Frank Vogel’s rotation decisions are more to blame, Westbrook, again, didn’t join his two superstar teammates in contributions with only 12 points on 5/15 field-goal shooting. He did help a mini-run in the second half of the game with two-straight 3-pointers, but other than that he was a nothing in a game that the team could have just used a little bit more to get over the hump and get a win.
After the game, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin asked Westbrook about a negative “energy shift” in the crowd late in the game after they had been pretty into it in the 3rd quarter. In that quarter, the energetic crowd was responding to some impressive scoring from Russ and LeBron.
Below you’ll see McMenamin’s question and Westbrook’s answer transcribed by me from the following Spectrum SportsNet video.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin: “It was a back-and-forth game most of the night and with three minutes to go New Orleans goes on a 7-0 spurt and it felt like there was an energy shift in the arena where, perhaps, the fans could feel something bad was coming. What’s it like as a player to feel the crowd energy change as the games going on.”
Westbrook: “I don’t pay attention to this crowd, to be honest.”
Now, to give Westbrook some credit, this was a classic post-game media availability of his that included his patented short responses that carry a tone of annoyance. I don’t think he puts too much thought into these responses given the fact that he carries an aura of a guy who just wants to get out of the arena.
So when he mentioned “this crowd”, specifically calling out the Lakers faithful as a crowd that he doesn’t pay attention to, I don’t think he threw that shade on purpose. If he chose his words more carefully, I’d assume he would say that he tries not to let the crowd’s energy affect how he approaches the game, whether the energy is good or bad.
But… yeah. He didn’t choose his words carefully. Hell, the only time he probably chose his words carefully in post-game media availability when talking about Lakers fans was when he spoke about the unfortunate reality that his family didn’t feel comfortable being at games due to fan reactions in the infamous “Westbrick” media session.
Of course, fans are going to have negative reactions to extremely poor play from their “stars” no matter what type of quotes they’re giving in media sessions. But still, these quotes definitely don’t help Westbrook’s endearment (or lack there of) to the Lakers fanbase that he was once a part of a kid growing up in L.A.
His words Friday evening just continue a sad chapter in this sad book that continues to be written on the Lakers’ 2021-22 season. With the Lakers nearly eliminated from play-in contention, fans won’t be changing their outlook on Westbrook any time soon, with that relationship far from being able to be saved.
And from the sound of it, Westbrook doesn’t really care.