ESPN’s First Take host Stephen A. Smith had time for Russell Westbrook following comments he made about now former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
During his exit interview following the Lakers’ abysmal season, Westbrook spoke on his relationship, well lack thereof, with Vogel. Westbrook opened up about the disconnect between himself and his former coach.
“I think it’s unfortunate, to be honest, because I’ve never had an issue with any of my coaches before,” Westbrook said on Monday (Apr.11). “I’m not sure what his issue was with me, or I’m not sure why, but I can’t really give you an answer to why we really never connected.”
Tuesday (Apr.12), Smith spoke about Westbrook’s comments, saying he threw the fired head coach under the bus and called his remarks straight-up embarrassing.
“You gave the indication that the relationship with Vogel was problematic as if that excused what we saw from you,” Smith points out. “You had some good games, but you had a lot of bad games. You gotta own that.”
Smith would also point out Westbrook hitting the side of the backboard during games and other on-court gaffes that happened throughout the season that had many people thinking he should see a sports psychiatrist.
Westbrook also blamed “false news reports” for his struggles during the press conference ESPN reports.
“The famous ‘source’ stories that came out about myself, whether it be between me and the staff, me and Frank, me and the fans, there’s just so many made-up stories that are not true,” Westbrook said. “It’s just always having to fight against that constantly. It’s just not [being] given a fair chance. It’s like, ‘OK, now I got to fight against this made-up story. Now I got to fight against this one. Now I go to fight against this one. Now I got to fight against this one.”
When asked to name specific instances, Westbrook flat out told reports “no,” adding, “I can’t. You know the examples. I don’t want to get in details, what story, who wrote it, why … it’s pointless. It really doesn’t matter because it’s not true. If it doesn’t come from me [it is not true].”
The Brodie also chimed in on LeBron James and Anthony Davis, saying they wanted to “let Russ be Russ,” allowing the future Hall-of-Famer to play at the high level he is known for. He shut that down saying basically saying it was a lie.
“Yeah, [they said it],” Westbrook said. “But that wasn’t true.”
Reporters asked Westbrook to elaborate further on his answer, and he pointed to it coming down to floor spacing and more.
“It’s a combination of where we are on the floor, positioning, fit and challenge, trial, and error, being able to play on the floor with each other,” Westbrook said. “Finding ways to be able to utilize us to the best of our abilities. It’s that simple.”
The “big three” of James, Davis, and Westbrook played in just 21 games together on the floor, and that is a good reason why they never got on the same page. When asked if he would like to return to the Lakers, which is looking very improbable, Westbrook said, “I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something.”
When asked what would bring him back to the Lakers for another run, “I mean, obviously it’s going to be a lot of different changes based on who the coach is and how our style of play and what we play like,” Westbrook said. “So, that question is kind of up in the air. But once that decision is made then we’ll kind of go from there.”
Westbrook has a player option for next season worth $47 million. He made no indication if he plans on exercising it. We would be surprised if he returns to the Lakers next season.
Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty
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