NBA

Kevin Durant defends Russell Westbrook from continued criticism: ‘Dialogue around our game is just so toxic’

Embattled Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook has received a show of support from his former teammate, Kevin Durant. In the newest episode of his “The ETCs” podcast with Boardroom, Durant said criticism of Westbrook has gone too far and called the current media climate “toxic.”

The Nets star’s comments were in regards to Westbrook catching flak for multiple videos posted to social media which showed him off on his own while the rest of the team huddled up. One, prior to a preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, received particular attention

Durant’s full comments:

“I mean Russ always did [that pre-game routing]. It feels like he was just getting his mind right, just his own routine before the game. But if you play in L.A. next to the biggest figure in sports in LeBron James, everything you do is gonna be magnified, especially if the outside perception is that your team is gonna struggle. People don’t trust that your team is gonna be good.”

“That’s how they feel about us, the Lakers, teams that they had high hopes for last year that didn’t come through. The Lakers got a big microscope on them so you got to be on point every time. So if Russell misses a layup it’s gonna be blown out of proportion. If he misses a 3, he might be 5 for 7, but he missed those two shots, you know what I’m saying?” 

“I understand that there’s certain points where you don’t play well and you are open to criticism when you don’t play well — we get that. But it’s like now you’re making him the butt of your jokes. It’s getting to a point where it’s like alright, I get the criticism for what he did that night, but now it’s starting to reach a different level with some shit that I don’t understand right now. So hopefully he just keeps hooping and blocks all that noise out and prove to everybody that they’re wrong about how they feel about his game and they mesh over there in L.A. But when we play them, I hope they play shitty, but I hope all that stuff works out because I hate how they talk. The dialogue around our game is just so toxic at this point. I get criticism, but it’s starting to turn into something else right now.”

Westbrook has been under heavy scrutiny ever since he was traded to the Lakers prior to last season, and his poor play in purple and gold has made him an easy target amid the team’s struggles. Almost all of the on-court criticism has been fair; Westbrook did not play well last season and does not fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis

However, there have been times where fans have gone too far — certainly in Westbrook’s mind and now Durant’s. Last season, continued “Westbrick” jokes and vulgar comments on social media and at arenas led Westbrook to tell reporters he didn’t even want to bring his kids to his games anymore. 

Fans and the media overanalyzing Westbrook’s pre-game routine doesn’t reach that level, but it is an example of how, as Durant put it, the veteran has to be “on point” at all times. And until he starts to play better or gets traded, that will remain the case. 



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