Lakers’ Russell Westbrook: Harassment Weighing on Family; Time to Stop Name-Shaming

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook used his postgame press conference following Monday’s 117-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs to address the harassment his family has received this season.

He wore a necklace with the first letters of the names of members of his family (Nina, Noah, Jordyn and Skye) and told reporters it is “super upsetting” that he doesn’t even want them to attend home games because of the things they will hear.

“I don’t want to even bring my kids to that game because I don’t want my kids to hear their dad getting called names,” he said while also revealing he stands by tweets from his wife, Nina.

“Right now, she’s reached a point and my family have reached a point where it’s really weighing on them,” he said.

Nina posted a series of tweets Monday in which she said she has received death threats and been “harassed on a daily basis” during this season:

Nina Westbrook @ninawestbrook

When I’m being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I’m having obscenity’s and death wishes for me and my family sent my way because you’re expressing your “truth”, it’s hard for me to get on board with that.

“It hit me like damn, I can no longer allow people, you know, for example, ‘Westbrick’ to me is now shaming,” Westbrook added during his press conference. “Like it’s shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It’s a name that means more, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad—the ones that kind of paved the way for me. And that’s just one example. That kind of hit myself and my wife in a place where it’s not great, man.”

He continued, adding, “It’s not great, man. I think a lot of times, you know, I let it slide. But it’s now time to put a stop to that and put it on notice. … Every time I do hear it now, I will make sure that I address it and make sure I nip that in the butt.”

The tone behind Westbrook’s comments underscores what has surely been an emotionally exhausting season for him and highlights the reality many fans don’t necessarily always see the human side of the athletes they cheer and jeer on a nightly basis.

Part of the frustration stems from the fact there is no arguing the 2021-22 campaign has been a poor one for the Lakers, and the point guard is certainly connected to that.

Championship expectations at the beginning of the season—with a roster that featured five potential future Hall of Famers in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard—have turned into consistent losing and a fight just to make the Western Conference play-in tournament.

Monday’s loss dropped the Purple and Gold to 28-36, which is ninth in the West and three games better than the 11th-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the race to stay in the top 10 spots. Davis has been injured, James has been asked to carry significant amounts of the offensive burden at 37 years old and the Westbrook fit has been less than ideal.

The latter entered play averaging 4.0 turnovers per game while shooting 28.4 percent from deep. Westbrook’s 18.1 points a night is his lowest scoring mark since his second season in the league in 2009-10, and he has struggled to fit into a role where he isn’t as ball-dominant as he was in his prime.

Sam Amick and Bill Oram of The Athletic reported that some on the Lakers’ coaching staff made a “push” for Westbrook to be traded, while ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported head coach Frank Vogel has “resisted” some calls from within the organization to bring the nine-time All-Star off the bench.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, “there is mutual interest in finding Westbrook a new home this summer.”

Still, that leaves the rest of this season for Westbrook to play in the city near where he attended high school and college. What figured to be a happy homecoming as he chased what could be the first championship of an otherwise stellar career has now devolved into fans apparently threatening his family.

There is still time for the Lakers to turn things around on the court before the playoffs, but Westbrook is clearly tired of hearing so much criticism from the fans who are supposed to be cheering him on in Los Angeles.                     

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