Russell Westbrook decries fan harassment of family, ‘Westbrick’ after Lakers loss
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook said he doesn’t want family members, even his young children, to attend Lakers games because of the things they might hear.
The admission came Monday night after the Lakers lost 117-110 to the Spurs in San Antonio. Earlier in the day, his wife Nina sent a series of tweets detailing her anger with threats and harassment. And in the third quarter with the Spurs, Westbrook had an interaction with a fan where he shouted “don’t disrespect my name.”
It’s the latest issue in a season full of them for the Lakers, who again were forced to play without LeBron James because of knee soreness, helping cost the Lakers their shot at consecutive wins for the first time since Jan. 7.
The Lakers hope James can play Wednesday in Houston.
The issue for Westbrook and his family appears to be the use of “Westbrick” on television by personalities, including Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless. Nina Westbrook tweeted at Bayless on Friday, saying she was offended.
She also sent a series of tweets Monday, including one where she wrote she’s “being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I’m having obscenity’s [sic] and death wishes for me and my family sent my way.”
“I, 100%, stand behind my wife and how she’s feeling,” Westbrook said. “It’s not just about this year. Right now, she’s reached a point and my family has reached a point where it’s really weighing on them. And it’s very unfortunate, just for me personally, because this is just a game. This is just a game. This is not end all, be all.
“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.”
The San Antonio Spurs gained a game on the Lakers, playing without injured LeBron James, in the race for a play-in tournament spot with a 117-110 victory.
Westbrook said he and his wife attended a parent-teacher conference for their 4-year-old son Noah, when the teacher remarked how much he liked using his last name.
“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,’” he said. “... And I kind of sat there in shock and it hit me like, ‘Damn. I can no longer allow people.’ ‘Westbrick’ for example, to me, is now shaming. It’s shaming my name, my legacy for my kids.”
In his first year with the Lakers, his hometown team, Westbrook’s been an on-court disappointment.
He’s averaging 18.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists on 43.3% shooting from the field and 28.2% shooting from three-point range. The Lakers fell eight games below .500 following Monday’s loss.
“I haven’t done anything to anybody. I haven’t hurt anyone. I haven’t done anything but play basketball a way that people might not like,” Westbrook said. “And this is just a game. Just a game. This is not my entire life. I think that’s the ultimate thing that’s been for me. I don’t like to harp on it or want it out there. But once it starts to affect my family, my wife. Even today, my mom said something about it today.
“It affects them even going to games. 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.”
On the floor Monday, the Lakers’ season operated in typical fashion — the team falling behind by double digits before clawing back and making the game tight, only to fall short down the stretch.
Following James’ 56-point performance Saturday against the Warriors, any hopes for momentum were lost in an 18-point fourth quarter for a team that desperately missed its leading scorer.
“One step forward, one step back,” Malik Monk said. “One step forward, one step back. Five steps back, a couple steps forward. Keep doing the same thing, man.”
Early Monday, the man who is soon to be the NBA’s winningest coach ever, Gregg Popovich, called a timeout and did something unconventional. He walked directly from his bench across the court and gestured toward a fan in the second row and motioned for him to get in the game.
Two days after scoring 56 points against Golden State, an injured left knee will keep LeBron James out of Monday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.
That fan? Hall of Famer David Robinson. Monday, he didn’t need him against the Lakers.
The Spurs’ win ties Popovich with Don Nelson for the most NBA coaching wins with 1,335 regular-season victories.
Talen Horton-Tucker led the Lakers with 18 points and Carmelo Anthony, Westbrook and Monk all scored 17 in the loss, the team left to fight with Anthony Davis and James on the bench in street clothes.
“Every time we win and get some momentum, something happens,” Westbrook said.
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