Lakers News: Former Russell Westbrook Teammate Calls Lakers Point Guard “Misunderstood”

Though Russ has struggled to connect with his L.A. teammates, he has a fan at a prior stop.

Though Los Angeles Lakers starting point guard Russell Westbrook seems to have struggled to connect with his L.A. teammates during his brief tenure playing for his hometown team thus far, he does have a fan of his game from his previous NBA stop.

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Springy Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford, with whom Westbrook played during the 2020-21 season, recently had a revealing conversation with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson for Bally Sports, where he discussed his feelings about the shifting way the 6’3″ UCLA product has been perceived in recent years:

“I think it’s the thing that we’ve seen on difference teams from him. There’s been the loud, obnoxious ‘I’m like that’ Russ, there’s been the humble, sit-back Mr. Triple Double Russ, that’s what I called him since I was on the team with him at the time. And now I feel like he’s just… trying to switch the narrative of what he [is] again,” Gafford reflected. “This man just broke a crazy-ass record last year [he is now the all-time triple-doubles leader, ahead of Oscar Robertson], and now everybody hates him so, like, what’s going on?”

“If Willie Beamen was a real person, that’s Russell Westbrook,” Robinson observed. “He’s literally like a movie star.” Willie Beamen was the brashly confident (fictional) upstart quarterback whose star rose through the course of the Oliver Stone football classic “Any Given Sunday” (1999). 

A tangential thought: Westbrook certainly has the physique and bad-ass swagger of a movie star, and he does work just a few miles away from Hollywood. We here at All Lakers would support an action hero/spots movie protagonist future for the Long Beach native after he laces up his sneakers for the last time, be that in L.A. or (more than likely) elsewhere.

During his 2021-22 season for his hometown team, the 33-year-old posted solid numbers while trying to take a more deferential role alongside stud teammates LeBron James and Anthony Davis, when that title-winning forward duo was healthy. Westbrook appeared in a team-most 78 regular season contests, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists (on a whopping 3.8 turnovers), and a steal per game. That scoring mark was his lowest such average since the 2009-10 season. His free-throw percentage of 66.7% on 5.1 looks per game has also tapered off in a major way from its career rate of 78.3% on 6.9 attempts a night.

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