Nine-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook spoke up after his wife, Nina, said he had received the “death wish” as the Los Angeles Lakers struggle continues.
The 33-year-old Westbrook, who joined his hometown Lakers in August, has been at the center of fan anger as the 2020 NBA champions battle to qualify for the playoffs this season.
“I stand 100% behind my wife and how she feels,” Westbrook said after the Lakers lost to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, their eighth loss in 10 games. “When it comes to basketball, I don’t mind the criticism for failing and making shots. But when it becomes where my name is disgraced, it becomes a problem.
“I kind of let it go in the past because it never really bothered me. But it really hit me the other day. My wife and I attended a parent-teacher conference for my son. And the teacher said to me, ‘[Westbrook’s son] Noah, he’s very proud of his last name. He wrote it everywhere. He wrote it on everything. He told everyone and walked around and said, ‘I’m Westbrook.’ …and I sat there in shock, and it hit me, like, ‘Shit. I can no longer allow people [to denigrate my surname].’”
Westbrook has been nicknamed “Westbrick” by some Lakers fans for his perceived poor shot. The 2017 NBA MVP said the insult meant his family no longer wanted to attend Lakers games in person.
“It affects them even going to games,” he said. “Like, I don’t even want to take my kids to games because I don’t want them to hear people calling their dad’s nicknames and other names for no reason because he’s playing a game he loves. And it got so bad that my family didn’t even want to go to a home game, to any game… and that’s a shame, man. And that’s very annoying for me.
“I’m at a point where I’m going to continue to work on it. It is deeply regretted.”
The Lakers started the season as favorites to win the NBA title after adding veterans such as Carmelo Anthony and Westbrook to the roster in addition to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But they have struggled, especially in recent months, and are now 11.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets, who occupy the final automatic qualifying spot for the playoffs. If the season ends today, the Lakers will be forced into a play-in tournament to qualify for the first round of the playoffs.
Russell Westbrook retaliates after wife receives ‘death wish’ as Lakers struggle | Los Angeles Lakers
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