Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook is tired of people slandering his last name.
When he joined the Lakers this season, Russell Westbrook didn’t envision his first year would be this tumultuous. Following another disappointing loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Westbrook decided to use his post-game press conference to address harassment claims and “death wishes” his wife revealed their family had received during his first run with the Lakers.
The 14-year NBA veteran pointed out that taunting him about his nothing new to him but noted that he and his wife decided to speak out to protect his name and his children. One taunt, in particular, that seems to be rubbing him the wrong way is “Westbrick,” the play on his last name coined by FOX Sports talking head Skip Bayless.
“I 100 percent stand behind my wife and how she’s feeling,” Westbrook said his Lakers’ 117-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday (Mar.8). “When it comes to basketball, I don’t mind the criticism of missing and making shots. But the moment it becomes where my name is getting shamed, it becomes an issue.”
“I’ve kind of let it go in the past because it never really bothered me. But it really kind of hit me the other day. Me and my wife were at teacher-parent conferences for my son. And the teacher told me, ‘Noah, he’s so proud of his last name. He writes it everywhere. He writes it on everything. He tells everybody and walks around and says, ‘I’m Westbrook.’ … And I kind of sat there in shock, and it hit me, like, ‘Damn. I can no longer allow people [to besmirch my name].”
Westbrook then singled out the “Westbrick” taunt calling it “shaming,” vowing to get involved and “nip it in the bud” if he hears it during games.
“Westbrick,’ for example, to me, is now shaming,” said of the nickname that immediately trends online when he’s having stinking it up on the court. “It’s shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It’s a name that means, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kind of paved the way for me.”
“A lot of times, I let it slide. But now it’s time to put a stop to that and put it on notice,” he further added. “There’s a difference. We need to make sure it’s understood. And every time I do hear it now, I will make sure that I address it and make sure I nip that in the bud.”
Westbrook also claimed the heckling has gotten so bad that his family doesn’t even come to games anymore.
“It affects them even going to games,” he said. “Like, I don’t even want to bring my kids to the game because I don’t want them to hear people calling their dad nicknames and other names for no reason because he’s playing the game that he loves. And it’s gotten so bad where my family don’t even want to go to home games, to any game … and it’s just super unfortunate, man. And it’s super upsetting to me.”
“I’m at a point where I’m going to continue to address it. It’s just unfortunate,” he concluded.
Russell Westbrook is currently the highest-paid player on the Lakers, making $44 million. His performance on the court tells a different story. Westbrook’s inconsistent production makes him the constant target of ire from passionate Lakers fans who feel he is not holding up his end of the bargain. Asking fans to retire the “Westbrick” and no longer mock him looks like the ultimate stretch, ESPN First Take’s Stephen A. Smith feels the same way.
If he genuinely wants fans to stop disrespecting his last name, winning basketball games, and playing at the MVP level, we all know he can is honestly, the best way to shut the haters up. For now, it seems NBA Twitter will not be retiring the nickname any time soon based on the reactions to his request.
You can peep more reactions in the gallery below.
Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty