SAN ANTONIO – After his wife turned to social media To detail the criticism and even “death wishes” his family received, Russell Westbrook spoke about the bullying they’ve been subjected to in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Westbrook, a 14-year veteran, nine-time All-Star and former NBA MVP, said mockery is nothing new to him, but he and his wife, Nina, are speaking out for two reasons: to uphold the honor of the family name and to protect their children.
“I 100 percent support my wife and how she feels,” Westbrook said after Los Angeles’ 117-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. “When it comes to basketball, I don’t mind the criticism for missing and shooting. But the moment my name is being shamed, it becomes an issue.
“I let it go in the past because it never really bothered me. But it really got to me the other day. My wife and I were at parent-teacher conferences for my son. And the teacher said to me, ‘Noah, you’re so proud of me. his last name. He writes it everywhere. He writes it on everything. He tells everybody and he walks up and he’s like, ‘I’m Westbrook.’” … And I sat there in shock, and I realized, like, ‘Damn. [ensucie mi nombre]'”.
The Westbrooks have three sons: Noah, 4, and twin daughters, Jordyn and Skye, 3.
Westbrook, who was acquired by the Lakers last offseason in a move that changed their roster, has become a poster child for the team’s struggles this season, deserved or not. LA entered the 2021-22 campaign as one of the favorites to win it all, and Monday’s loss, when Westbrook shot 5-for-14 overall, including 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter, with five turnovers, left the LA Lakers eight games under .500 with 18 games to play.
“‘Westbrick,’ for example, to me now is embarrassing,” he said, referring to a patronizing nickname that appears online seemingly every time he performs poorly. “It is to shame my name, my legacy for my children. It is a name that means a lot, not only to me, but also to my wife, my mom, my dad, the ones who paved the way for me.”
As the Lakers’ highest-paid player this season, earning $44 million, Westbrook’s production has been the target of many frustrated fans at how inconsistent the Lakers have been. He is averaging 18.1 points on 43.4% shooting from the field, 28.4% shooting from three and 67% from the free throw line, to go with 7.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 4.0 turnovers per game.
Late in the third quarter on Monday, with both teams lined up at the free throw line for a Spurs shot, Westbrook was caught on a courtside fan’s phone yelling at a fan: “Don’t disrespect to my name”.
Westbrook promised to be similarly involved if taunts like that happen in the future. “Many times, I let it go. But now it’s time to put an end to it and put it on notice,” he said. “There’s a difference. We need to make sure it’s understood. And every time I hear it now, I’m going to make sure to address it and make sure to nip it in the bud.”
Westbrook said the treatment of fans has caused his family to avoid attending his games in person.
“It affects them even going to games,” he said. “I don’t even want to take my kids to the game because I don’t want them to hear people calling their father nicknames and other names for no reason because he’s playing the game he loves. And it’s gotten so bad that my family doesn’t even He doesn’t even want to go to the home games, any games… and he’s super unlucky. And it pisses me off.
“I’m at a point where I’m going to continue to address him. It’s unfortunate.”