Russell Westbrook ‘Disappointed’ By Benching; Determined To “Figure S**t Out”
Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook told ESPN that he was disappointed with his fourth-quarter benching in Wednesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, but that he remains confident he will “figure s— out and do what’s best for our team to win in the long run.”
“Surprised, yes,” he said. “I was disappointed I didn’t go back in, but I’m more disappointed that we lost the d**n game.
“I want to be able to be on the floor to help my teammates and be able to help our team win in games like that—but that was a decision that was made.”
ESPN reported Thursday that the coaching staff had the ok to bench Westbrook in the telltale minutes of the game, and coach Frank Vogel said after the game that he put in “the guys that I thought were going to win the game.”
“Ultimately, you have to be OK when s— doesn’t go well, and I’m ok,” Westbrook said. “I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me here, and I’ll continue to do so and ride this out as long as we can toward our ultimate goal—and that’s to win a championship.
“We obviously haven’t been fully healthy, but I’m committed to making this thing work. The communication is there with everybody in the organization to make this thing work, to make this team we all want it to be in the future.
“I have accepted everything that has been asked of me and tried to do it to the best of my ability. I’m not the ultimate decision-maker of if it’s working—or if it’s not working. I’m OK with sacrificing some of the things that I’ve been able to do in this game to win, because that’s the most important part of this game. I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do to this point.”
Westbrook took umbrage with reports that he stormed out of the Crypto.com Arena locker room without meeting with reporters in a postgame news conference. The 33-year-old insists he’s trying to carry out Vogel’s wishes amid a slew of injuries and inconsistent lineups.
“I think the communication of what [Vogel] wants and how he wants it kind of changes because guys have been in and out of the lineup,” Westbrook said. “Everybody is trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. I try to put my head down and do the best that I can do for our team, and whatever is asked of me I try to do it to the best of my ability. That’s all I’ve been trying to do since I got here.”
The nine-time All-Star and 2017 NBA MVP arrived in L.A. via a July trade with the Washington Wizards; it’s his fourth team in as many years (Houston, Oklahoma City).
“I think it’s important to know that part of the process of being on a new team is that there are going to be a lot of ups and downs and struggles throughout a season,” Westbrook said. “It’s been a challenge for the last three years, just trying to figure things out. I lean on a lot of my faith to be able to stay locked in on my craft and work my a– off and find ways to make situations work. The challenge is how to be the version of myself for this team, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.
“I want to get better as the season goes on, and I’ve got to take responsibility for the things I’m doing and how I’m making those around me better. We have a legitimate chance to be able to win it all, and to do that, I’ll have to better—and I know that I will be.”