Russell Westbrook's Back Home To Help Guide The Lakers Towards A Ring
August 12, 2021
Russell Westbrook entered Staples Center with head coach Frank Vogel and General Manager Rob Pelinka for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers last Tuesday afternoon. Westbrook was all smiles as he sat on the stage in front of his family and over a dozen reporters. Before officially introducing Westbrook to the Los Angeles media, Pelinka publicly thanked the players he traded for Westbrook, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell Pope for being a part of the Laker team and organization.
The Hawthorne, California native attended Leuzinger high school and later UCLA, Westbrook is every bit of the city as are the beaches, the 110 freeway and Crenshaw Boulevard. Growing up a Lakers fan, it's truly a dream come true for the young man who always represents the city that raised him."Being from L.A., you always wish that you can play for your home team and be able to do that," Westbrook said. "But that's definitely something that always kind of circled around in my mind. And maybe one day. But I would always come back and be like, 'Ahh, that probably won't happen.'"
The triple-double record setting guard is no stranger to tall tasks and now has entered one of the biggest challenges in his career of helping guide the Lakers back to an NBA championship. "I think it still hasn't hit me yet, being from L.A., growing up not too far from here and being able to watch the parades -- try to go to them, try to miss school to try to go to them. Being a Laker fan and being from L.A., but now everything is coming full circle for me."
Westbrook, who's always had a high respect for the late great Kobe Bryant, shared some thoughts about him joining the Lakers and understanding what it means to join the prestigious purple and gold. "It hasn't left my head. Things that we talked about -- me and him -- just the potential of me being able to be a Laker, understanding what that entails," Westbrook said about Bryant. "It's just crazy to think about, and that will be with me every time I put that Laker jersey on."
Though the Lakers traded Kuzma, Harrell, Pope and a 2021 first round pick for Westbrook in a bold effort to bolster the team, along with the other moves that included adding Carmelo Anthony, and Trevor Ariza, Pelinka believes this team has the tools in place to capture an 18th championship. "This was an opportunity to maximize the ability to do what we're obsessed to do and that's to bring an 18th title to this city." Let's also keep in mind it was the recruiting of Anthony Davis and Lebron James the warranted this deal to manifest."
"Bron is one of the best players to play this game, and his ability to be able to kind of do everything on the floor allows me to be able to just figure it out," Westbrook said. "My job is to make sure that I'm able to make his game easier for him."
Westbrook being back in the city not only allows his family and friends to witness his energetic play and greatness on the court nightly, but the youth of the city that he has a heart for will benefit from his involvement with the community.
With Westbrook, James, the resigning of Talen-Hornton-Tucker, Dwight Howard's return, adding young players like Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn, the key to this team remaining successful will be the health and consistent play of Anthony Davis. Davis is the glue that will hold this team together throughout the season and the playoffs.
The bullseye has gotten bigger on the backs of the Lakeshow, yet this task will define all of their careers into the stratosphere if they can hoist up the Larry O'Brien trophy in June, a first for Westbrook and a few others on this squad.