Russell Westbrook is happy.
Laker fans may not be happy with Russell Westbrook — Los Angeles traded a team’s worth of depth to land Westbrook, and he has not meshed next to LeBron James — but Westbrook is happy. He is home, with his family, playing in the city where he was raised for the team he grew up idolizing. Westbrook has said before he is in a good place personally.
Sunday night, the boos rained down on the Lakers during an ugly home loss to the Pelicans. Lakers fans let their stars hear about it, and the Lakers’ stars jawed back, including Westbrook.
Westbrook shrugged the boos off after the game, saying he does not take them home with him, but the booing fans “can take their a** home.” Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“Nah,” he said. “Take it home? For what? S***. Take it home? I got three beautiful kids at my house. Why would I take it home? If they boo, they can take their a** home. I ain’t worried about that. It doesn’t bother me none.”
From the Lakers’ perspective, this is a “flush it” game — every team has a few of those a season. Nights where nothing works, it gets ugly, so you flush it, forget about it, and move on.
But fans see a team that has dropped 5-of-6, a team that just gave up and had terrible body language Sunday night, a team that came into the season talking of title hopes and now is the No. 9 seed and more in danger of falling out of the play-in than climbing the standings. Fans are frustrated. Those fans express it in one of the few outlets they have and let LeBron, Westbrook, Jeanie Buss, and everyone else know how they feel.
It’s one thing to see offseason moves that didn’t work out as envisioned (even if it was predictable), but it’s another to see the lack of effort the Lakers gave Sunday night. That was not respecting the fans or the game of basketball. Laker fans know the difference.
That doesn’t mean Westbrook should bring his work troubles home with him, but he can’t be dismissive of them either — this is a bad Lakers team, and he is at the heart of the problem.