- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Russell Westbrook experiment in Los Angeles has been a disaster, but Monday night may have been a low point.

Following the Lakers’ loss in San Antonio, Westbrook detailed how the harassment from fans is “weighing on” his family. Westbrook was asked about his wife’s tweet that said she and the Westbrook family are receiving “death wishes” amid frustration regarding his play with the Lakers. 

“I 100 percent stand behind my wife and how she‘s feeling,” Westbrook said. “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.”

Westbrook, who is having an underwhelming season in his first year in Los Angeles, has drawn the ire of Lakers fans and trolling of non-Lakers fans. The most common joke thrown at the 33-year-old is the altering of his last name from Westbrook to “Westbrick” — a play on him badly missing jump shots. Westbrook, unsurprisingly, isn’t a fan of the nickname.

“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,” Westbrook said. “Me and my wife were at teacher-parent conferences for my son. And 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.’ And I kind of sat there in shock, and it hit me, like, ‘Damn. I can no longer allow people [to tarnish my name].’”

During the loss to the Spurs, Westbrook was videoed arguing with a fan who was calling him “Westbrick,” telling him: “Don’t disrespect my name.” 

Westbrook is averaging 18.1 points per game — his lowest average since his second season in the NBA. A triple-double machine who averaged 10-plus rebounds and assists last season with the Wizards and in three straight seasons with the Thunder, Westbrook has struggled to find his place alongside LeBron James. The Wizards traded Westbrook to the Lakers before the season after one season in Washington. Similar to the issues with James, Westbrook and Wizards star Bradley Beal didn’t make for a successful duo. 

“‘Westbrick,’ for example, to me, is now shaming,” he said. “It’s shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It’s a name that means, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kind of paved the way for me.”

Westbrook also said that the criticism from fans has led him and his wife to avoid bringing their three young children to games. 

“It affects them even going to games,” he said. “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 … and it’s just super unfortunate, man. And it’s super upsetting to me.”

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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