Russell Westbrook has spoken, for the first time, as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers. A phrase that would have seemed science fiction not so long ago, but now a reality. The point guard reaches 32 years, and after thirteen in the NBA, to his city. He was born in Long Beach and played at UCLA before being drafted in 2008 (No. 4) by the Seattle Supersonics, the team that would become the Oklahoma City Thunder weeks later.
MVP in 2017 and nine times all star, and Olympic champion in London 2012, Westbrook lands in LA after a difficult stretch in which he has gone through three teams in three years: Thunder, where he closed a great stage, Rockets, where his union with James Harden did not work, and Wizards , where he played at a very good level but came out abruptly when he got the chance to join the Lakers. He will play at home, he will play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis… and he will play for the championship ring that he has not yet won.. In fact, he has only played one Final, and it has already rained: in 2012, with the Thunder.
At the Westbrook presentation, Rob Pelinka (big shot of the Lakers in the offices), affirmed that the Los Angeles team rubbed their hands: “He is an incredible leader. There are few players so loved and respected by those who have played with him. His arrival was an opportunity to make an aggressive move to position ourselves in the fight to win the 18th franchise title. In terms of competitiveness, it is elite. When he averaged a triple-double… in the NBA there weren’t many players that Kobe Bryant felt truly represented his Mamba Mentality. But that year I remember praising that a lot at Westbrook, his way of playing”.
Frank Vogel is the coach in charge of making Los Angeles’ new big three work: “I think we have a real chance to do something very special. We have three players who are capable of doing everything… who always make the right play. I think we are going to be a very dynamic team in transition, that we can do something special… but now we have to get to work ”.
Westbrook, for his part, embraced his connection to his new team. For his friendship with Kobe: “It’s incredible if you stop and think about it. Every time I put this shirt on, it is something that I will take with me, that will be present ”. And because the Lakers are the team I saw celebrate titles in their childhood: “I’m really happy and grateful. I can’t wait for us to get going. It seems unreal to be here, it’s like I don’t even realize it yet. Three or four years ago I would not have imagined something like this, it is impossible to assimilate. I’m going to give it my all while I’m in this franchise. For someone from Los Angeles… you always want to play at home. It is always something you have in mind. Now I’m here and I’m going to make the most of it. It’s the team that made him try to skip class to celebrate his titles. I come back home, I want to inspire and help people, especially young people ”.
When it comes to pure sports, Westbrook made his competitive mentality clear: “I don’t care about any other team.” And he spoke of his fit with LeBron and Davis: “Davis and LeBron, to begin with, are my friends. Now my job as a teammate is to reach out and elevate their game, just as they will want to do with me. And as the season progresses, we will hit the key. There will be better and worse moments, but it is normal. We will find a way to play to fight to be champions. I am looking forward to all of us working together. “
Finally, the base assured that he has nothing to prove: “No, I am happy for everything I have achieved so far. I’ve been lucky enough to play in this League… in fact, as soon as I was drafted, I was already showing many people that they had been wrong with me ”.