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Russell Westbrook Responds To The Critics: "When I Am On The Floor, I Don’t Have Any Friends. I Don’t Have Time For It, And I Am Never Changing That.”

(via Basketball Forever)

(via Basketball Forever)

Russell Westbrook is probably the most hated and criticized athlete in the modern NBA. Despite being a 9x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, and former MVP, Russ often gets the worst of the hate for what fans see as his "unhinged" playstyle.

But for Russ, it's those people who fail to understand who he is and why he plays the way that he does -- with a passion and energy like it's the last game of basketball he'll play in his life. In a chat with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, he spoke a bit about his legacy and his game, detailing who he is both on and off the court.

“People don’t actually know me to be able to say anything about me or what I am about or what I believe in. … The biggest thing for me is just kind of going and being myself, which is easy because being myself, I can be genuine and loyal and understanding. Obviously, I am not the easiest guy to understand, whatever, watch play, whatever people may think.”

The way I play the game kind of misconstrues people of who I am as a person, who I am and what I believe in and what I stand for. Obviously, how I play and off the floor are two different people. When I am on the floor, I don’t have any friends, I am not trying to be friendly, I’m trying to bust somebody’s ass. I ain’t got time to try to shake hands and do all that. I don’t have time for it, and I am never changing that.”

Westbrook also understands that his legacy goes beyond the game of basketball itself.

“Legacy for me is based on how many people I impact and inspire along my journey,” Russell Westbrook said. "I grew up in underserved communities, I understand what it’s like, I understand the struggle, I understand what it means and what it’s like to be a Black African American in society.”

After a largely disappointing season in Houston, Russell Westbrook sought the exit as it became clear in the end that he just wasn't the right fit.

With the Wizards, alongside sharpshooter John Wall, he could return to being the player we saw in OKC, an MVP candidate, and bonafide leader. Many, of course, have their doubts, as Westbrook's flaws have become a major talking point nowadays.

But the star is going to give it his all regardless -- and, really, what more could you ask for than that?