“Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard, give the ball to me, everybody run” - Anonymous Lakers staff member says Russell Westbrook didn’t respect Frank Vogel from Day 1

LA Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook
LA Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook

This season's meltdown by the LA Lakers has been heavily placed at the feet of point guard Russell Westbrook. A Los Angeles Times article by Dan Woike and Broderick Turner talked about what could have been the causes behind the disastrous run.

The authors used a quote from an anonymous Lakers staff member, who said Westbrook and coach Frank Vogel got off to a rocky start right when training camp began. The authors wrote:

“'Russ never respected Frank from Day 1,’ said one Lakers staff member with knowledge of the situation. ‘The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run.’ ...
"From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, 'cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.’”
“What happened?” one late-season opposing player wondered after beating the Lakers. “They stink.”The Times talked to 20 coaches, players, scouts and executives with the #Lakers and rivals to recount the most disappointing season in franchise…

It was clear from the very start that Westbrook did not fit in with the Lakers and that trading for him could prove to be a huge mistake. During an opening night, 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook totaled only eight points on 4-for-13 shooting, with five rebounds and four assists.

The quote showed that the fit was already wrong even before the Lakers with Westbrook played an NBA game next to stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

How much can truly be blamed on Russell Westbrook?

LA Lakers guard Russell Westbrook with the ball
LA Lakers guard Russell Westbrook with the ball

The dysfunction within the Lakers' origination has been spilling out to the media well before Russell Westbrook ever put on the purple and gold. The cracks have been showing well before LeBron James even signed with the team. They've only been exposed more by the team's struggles the last two seasons.

When James signed, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was part of the front office, had a scandal with basketball operations, and general manager Rob Pelinka had Magic leave his position. Before hiring Vogel, the Lakers struggled to find someone to fill the role due to the front office issues.

On top of that, Anthony Davis and James have struggled to stay healthy over the last two seasons. That led to them being bounced in the first round last season and missing the playoffs this season. Westbrook was brought in to be insurance if the other stars got hurt. He had a track record of winning games on his own, but that did not work.

Russell Westbrook last 10 games:22.2 PPG7.4 RPG7.1 APG52.1 FG%41.5 3P% on 4.1 attemptsFinished the season strong.

Westbrook still did play a part in the Lakers (31-49) not reaching their goals this season. It was evident throughout the season that he would not change his playing style. That style earned him an MVP award but no playoff success since playing with Kevin Durant. If anything, the quote above proved that Westbrook would never change for the team's betterment.

Westbrook is not the sole cause of the Lakers' problems. Poor roster construction and injuries did not help, but his high salary and unwellness to play a role were still a big part of the problem.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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