33-year-old Russell Westbrook has encountered many hardships in his first season as a Laker. At just 13-12, expectations have not been met, and Westbrook has been an easy target for critics and doubters.
Of course, Russ has never been shy about speaking up on these things.
In a chat with the media, the 9x All-Star pushed back against the narratives, suggesting that all the hate is only the result of his own unprecedented career.
"People have never seen any player like me before," Westbrook told ESPN. "When people do things that have never been done before, people's first response is to point out the negatives of why it happened, how it happened. And that's reality. That's the world we live in. For me, that's why I'm OK with being comfortable in doing the things I'm doing for the game and trying to win, and I can live with that."
Whether fair or not, there is some truth to the criticism. Besides his deficiencies on defense, Westbrook is prone to turning the ball over which can often flip the momentum of games in the opponent's favor.
Statistically, the star guard is putting up some of the lowest marks of his career at 20.4 points, 8.7 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game on 45% shooting -- though he did address his performance earlier in the season:
"If you just kinda look back and you see the last three or four years, I’ve always been on new teams, so I’m just kind of like figuring out the best way to better play," said Russ.
"The good part about it is I’m so blessed and thankful that I can do so many different things on the floor, that I can do whatever, with anybody. I can play with anybody. And I’m very comfortable with that. But also I take a lot of pride, and I take a lot of just energy and effort to make sure I can be the best I can be with the guys we have on this team and make the best of this situation."
After trading much of their depth to acquire Westbrook in the summer, it's clear that both LeBron James and the Lakers organization hold him in very high regard.
Unfortunately, his play so far has not been to the satisfaction of fans and that will not change until the Lakers start stacking up victories.
In the meantime, Westbrook is just going to ignore the haters, look for ways to get better and continue to show the unwavering confidence he has held for his entire career.