Whatever your opinion of that era of the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, the world is a better place because Robert Horry played for them in the 2000s. His performance in Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons gave us something to remember from that dry white toast of a seven-game series, and the shot to tie the series, 2-2 for the Lakers against the Sacramento Kings in the Conference Finals of the 2002 West is one of the league’s most indelible moments. Horry returned last night, this time burying a winner for the people while wearing a suit and tie.
The Lakers lost last night. Nothing new there, but that specific 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks knocked the Lakers out of the play-in tournament with seven games left in their regular season. Los Angeles Times reporter, Brad Turner had a simple question for Russell Westbrook after the game. With the Lakers dropping from the play-in, “What needs to change?”
The ever-defensive – everywhere but on the pitch – Westbrook replied that “nothing” should be changed. That’s right, nothing needs to change on a team that had championship aspirations at the start of the season, and by the end of it it’s 13 games under .500. After Westbrook’s initial response, he then asked Turner for an opinion on what changes to make. Turner replied “winning”, and this reply frustrated Westbrook who then confronted Turner. It wasn’t like Ryan Leaf was yelling at reporters, but he clearly wasn’t happy.
All this interaction amused Horry. As soon as the press conference ended, he decided to point out how ridiculous it was by FaceTiming Turner Live on Access Sportsnet Lakers.
Westbrook did it earlier in the season. When he was demand earlier this month how he handled the struggles of the Lakers, Westbrook caught the way the reporter posed the question. The reporter stated bluntly that the season is not going the way Westbrook envisioned. Westbrook replied, “What did I imagine?” A back and forth ensued for about a minute until Westbrook said simply, “I had no expectations. I arrive in all situations in the same way.
Whether or not you believe former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook had zero expectations when he was traded to a team with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, that pointless pummeling with reporters is getting old. If he won’t answer the question, remain seated for the time required by the league and say nothing, literally or figuratively. But he should stop bothering people who are doing their jobs well by asking legitimate questions about the Lakers’ struggles.
It’s not quite his mistake the Lakers’ 2021-22 season has been a complete disaster. Injuries have a lot to do with it as Davis has missed most of this season, and the team has been put in a tough spot early on with James missing some time. However, the reason he was brought to Los Angeles was to help steady the ship when James and Davis would inevitably run out of time so the Lakers’ late-season drop in the standings wouldn’t happen again.
Instead, the Lakers are looking for a few rotational players below what is needed to be a truly competitive NBA team. Westbrook didn’t demand the Lakers cut their roster to acquire him and ruin one of the best defenses in the league, but that’s what happened. It seems – and for the record, I’m not saying definitively that I know what’s going on in Westbrook’s head, so he won’t grill me on semantics if he were to ever read this – that he’s frustrated.
He is one of the most competitive players in the league and seemed thrilled to be home when he was on stage. the march of cries after the trade, and after a monster second half of last season with the Washington Wizards. Instead, this glamorous franchise has been the joke of the NBA, and the Lakers are way more interesting sunday evenings on HBO.
He has every right to be upset this season by the deluge of criticism and the results on the pitch. He also has the right to keep his frustrations with this season to himself. But if he’s going to act stupid like he did last night, then people like Robert Horry have to call him out on it, because the people who certainly aren’t to blame for the Lakers bad season are the ones asking him questions.