Russell Westbrook has had enough of the “Westbrickchants and “shaming” of his name.
The Lakers guard, who’s been unable to shake a months-long shooting slump, said the ongoing harassment from fans has negatively affected his family — so much, that they don’t want to attend his games.
“I 100 percent stand behind my wife and how she’s feeling because it’s not just about this year. Right now, she’s reached a point and my family’s reached a point where it’s really weighing on them,” Westbrook said after LA’s 117-100 loss to the Spurs on Monday.
Earlier that day, his wife, Nina Westbrook launched a series of tweets claiming the Westbrook family has received “death wishes” from critics.
“It’s really unfortunate because this is just a game. This is not end all, be all. 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 said.
“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. 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]. For example, ‘Westbrick’ to me is now shaming my name.”
The former league MVP shot 5-for-14 in Monday’s loss to San Antonio, including 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter, with five turnovers.
“It’s my legacy for my kids,” said the father of three. “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 and his wife Nina share three children — a son Noah, 4, and 3-year-old twin daughters, Jordyn and Skye.
Nina, a certified marriage and family therapist, vehemently defended her husband in a Twitter rant before the Lakers-Spurs game on Monday — and slammed Fox Sports Analyst Skip Bayless for “degrading” Westbrook in the media.
“It affects them even going to games,” Westbrook said about his wife and kids attending Lakers games. “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. I’m at a point where I’m going to continue to address it. It’s just unfortunate.”
Westbrook — who is the highest paid player on LA’s roster, earning $44 million — has become a target of merciless taunting on social media and at Lakers games thanks to the disappointing season.
The nine-time All-Star exchanged words with a fan on Monday, late in the third quarter while both teams were lined up at the free throw line for a Spurs foul shot. Viral footage captured by a fan showed Westbrook face the crowd and say, “Yo, don’t disrespect my name.”
Fans can be heard yelling “Westbrick” in the background of the video.
“A lot of times, I let it slide. But now it’s time to put a stop to that and put it on notice,” Westbrook said. “There’s a difference. We need to make sure it’s understood. And every time I do hear it now, I will make sure that I address it and make sure I nip that in the bud.”
The 33-year old is averaging 18.1 points on 43.4% shooting and 28.4 percent from deep — to go with 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists on 43.4 percent shooting from the field, and 4.0 turnovers per game.
Westbrook’s poor performance has put the Lakers front office on notice, and coach Frank Vogel has reportedly faced pressure to bench the 14-year veteran — who’s faced criticism from Lakers greats, including Magic Johnson.
According to Bleacher Report, the first-year Laker and the franchise have mutual interest in finding Westbrook a new team this summer. Neither side has addressed the report.
The Lakers have been relying on advisor and former coach Phil Jackson for guidance as their Westbrook woes continue, according to The Athletic.
The team acquired Westbrook last summer in hopes of forming a Big 3 with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who played a key role in recruiting Westbrook.
However, Westbrook’s failure to find his rhythm within the injury-plagued roster has contributed to the Lakers’ landing in the ninth spot in the Western Conference with 18 games left in the regular season.
The 28-36 Lakers play the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday.