Despite all the hate, ridicule, and blame Russell Westbrook has endured all season long, he has never shied away from the spotlight when healthy.
Where some might buckle under the pressure of failure in Los Angeles, Westbrook has made himself available to the world.
According to him, it's about sending a message that goes beyond the game itself.
“Because it’s bigger than me, man,” Westbrook told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “I’m super blessed to have a platform to be able to help show and help other people. So I’m very prideful in showing people on the outside that regardless of the situation, the circumstances that I may be going through, there are ways to be able to get through it. I strongly believe that if I’m healthy, then I’ll be able to play and go out and compete.”
While LeBron James and Anthony Davis have missed significant chunks of time, Russ has played in 75 of L.A.'s 76 games so far.
It's an admirable effort from Russ, but the hardest stretch lies ahead, as the Lakers fight to make the playoffs and the "Big Three" figure out how to play together.
“For me, I just got to find ways to be able to affect the game and figure out a way to be able to implement all of our guys so we can make a run, get into the playoffs and hopefully get a championship," said Russ. "My challenge as the point guard is to be able to implement everyone else..."
The Lakers host the Pelicans tonight in the Crypto.com arena for what may be the most important game of the season.
After that, they will face Denver on Sunday and the 62-win Suns on Tuesday. The path isn't getting any easier.
At the very least, Westbrook deserves credit for not losing his cool and continually suiting up for a team and a fan base that many believe has already given up on him.