Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook says ‘it nonetheless hasn’t hit me but’ to be a part of staff he cheered for rising up
Whilst Russell Westbrook spent the primary decade of his occupation with the Oklahoma City Thunder maturing from first-round select, to All-Famous person, to league MVP, the considered returning to Los Angeles at some point to play for his fatherland Lakers gave the impression additional and farther from truth.
“Being from L.A., you all the time want that you’ll play for your own home staff and be capable of do this,” Westbrook stated Tuesday at his introductory information convention with the Lakers at Staples Heart. “However that is surely one thing that all the time roughly rotated round in my thoughts. And possibly in the future. However I’d all the time come again and be like, ‘Ahh, that most likely may not occur.’”
As incredible as it will have gave the impression when he changed into the primary participant since Oscar Robertson to moderate a triple-double for a season and stabilized the Thunder group after Kevin Durant left for the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook joined his 3rd staff within the remaining 3 years since leaving the Thunder. He is been a Houston Rocket, a Washington Wizard and is now a Laker, preserving up a red and gold No. zero uniform on the finish of the day’s festivities.
“It is surreal,” the Lengthy Seaside, California local stated. “I feel it nonetheless hasn’t hit me but, being from L.A., rising up no longer too some distance from right here and having the ability to watch the parades — attempt to move to them, attempt to omit college to take a look at to visit them. Being a Laker fan and being from L.A., however now the whole lot coming complete circle for me.”
Westbrook stated that, as of a pair weeks in the past, a go back to L.A. nonetheless gave the impression not going, with two years and $91 million nonetheless owed to the 32-year previous combo guard. However a dialog with LeBron James, whom he described as a chum earlier than he is a teammate, began to modify issues.
“These things came about so briefly, all of this came about so quick, the remaining two weeks or so,” Westbrook stated. “However we have now had temporary conversations and mentioned clearly what we want to do, what we want to do.”
L.A. traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and their 2021 first-round select to Washington for Westbrook on draft day remaining month, step one in what became out to be a close to whole overhaul from remaining yr’s roster that misplaced within the first around of the playoffs to the Phoenix Suns.
“I feel it used to be a chance to make an competitive transfer that we felt bettered our chance to convey the 18th identify to the Los Angeles Lakers,” stated staff vp of basketball operations and basic supervisor Rob Pelinka. “This used to be a chance to maximise the facility to do what we are obsessed to do and that is the reason to convey an 18th identify to this town.”
Two of the titles the Lakers earned got here at Westbrook’s expense. Kobe Bryant and L.A.’s run to the 2010 ring began with a first-round win over Westbrook’s Thunder. James and the Lakers’ bubble championship in 2020 incorporated beating Westbrook’s Rockets in the second one around.
Whilst Westbrook by no means performed with Bryant outdoor of the Olympics and All-Famous person video games, he felt a kinship with the overdue, nice Lakers guard.
“It hasn’t left my head. Issues that we mentioned — me and him — simply the possibility of me having the ability to be a Laker, working out what that involves,” he stated. “It is simply loopy to consider, and that will probably be with me each and every time I put that Laker jersey on.”
Pelinka, who used to be Bryant’s agent and shut buddy, recalled fondly that Westbrook used to be at the quick record of gamers that his former shopper believed to include the “Mamba Mentality.”
“The preliminary factor that roughly introduced us in combination used to be having the ability to compete and no longer having the ability to take nights off,” Westbrook stated of Bryant.
And the Lakers’ addition of Westbrook will have to permit James — who’s coming into his 19th season and can flip 37 in December — to take one of the most load off his shoulders.
“Bron is likely one of the perfect gamers to play this recreation and his skill so that you could roughly do the whole lot at the flooring permits me so that you could simply determine it out,” stated Westbrook, who led the league in assists remaining yr. “I am coming to a championship-caliber staff and my process is to ensure that I am able to make his recreation more straightforward for him, and I’m going to in finding techniques to do this all over the sport.”
Lakers trainer Frank Vogel joined Westbrook and Pelinka at Tuesday’s match and declared that L.A. would transform an “extraordinarily dynamic, fast-breaking staff” with Westbrook added to the fold with James and Anthony Davis. And Vogel downplayed any are compatible problems between the trio as a result of they’re “all make-the-right-play gamers.”
Westbrook, flanked on the match by means of his father, Russ; his mom, Shannon; and his brother, Ray, made something abundantly transparent, alternatively: His are compatible with the town of Los Angeles could not be higher.
“Simply having the ability to be with my youngsters at all times, having the ability to see my mum and dad and my spouse at all times is to me the most efficient factor you’ll ask for,” he stated. “Being again house.”