Russell Westbrook has surely achieved what he had desired for years but the question is, was it that straightforward? Returning to Los Angeles to play for his hometown Lakers appeared to be an impossible dream.
He had covered a long journey wandering further away from his fantasy. First, he spent a decade playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then gradually matured his game from the first-round pick to All-Star and then to league MVP.
At his introductory news conference with the Lakers, he was overwhelmed with joy and said,
“Being from LA, you always wish that you can play for your home team and be able to do that, but that’s definitely something that always kind of circled around in my mind. And maybe one day. But I would always come back and be like, ‘Ahh, that probably won’t happen.”
At first, it looked like an unlikely task as he solidified his Thunder organization after the departure of Kevin Durant for the Golden State Warriors.
He also averaged a triple-double for a season and he was the first person to do so after Oscar Robertson.
However, within three years Westbrook has united with three teams after he left The Thunder. After the Houston Rocket and Washington Wizard, he is finally a Laker now.
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Flooding with emotions, the California star said, “It’s surreal. I think it still hasn’t hit me yet, being from LA, growing up not too far from here, and being able to watch the parades — try to go to them, try to miss school to try to go to them. Being a Laker fan and being from LA, but now everything is coming full circle for me.”
The Phoenix Suns totally demolished LA in the first round of the playoffs last year.
To avoid any situation like this again the first thing L.A. did was to trade Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell. It also took Westbrook in 2021.
Explaining the whole move the Vice President of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said,
“I think it was an opportunity to make an aggressive move that we felt bettered our probability to bring the 18th title to the Los Angeles Lakers. This was an opportunity to maximize the ability to do what we’re obsessed to do and that’s to bring the 18th title to this city.”
Westbrook’s addition to the Lakers team is a welcoming thing as it would make the team more stable and potentially strong. Moreover, it would lift some burden from LeBron’s shoulders.
James will turn 37 in December and is playing his 19th season. It would be difficult for him to gain victory as a lone wolf. With Westbrook alongside him, it would be a manageable mission.
“Bron is one of the best players to play this game, and his ability to be able to kind of do everything on the floor allows me to be able to just figure it out,” said Westbrook, who led the league in assists last year.
“I’m coming to a championship-caliber team and my job is to make sure that I’m able to make his game easier for him, and I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game.”