Following their 111-104 loss to the Pacers on Wednesday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel made the bold decision to bench Russell Westbrook for the closing minutes of the game.
It sparked a lot of controversy at the time and apparently struck the nerve of the star point guard, who made the following statement on Friday morning:
"Ultimately, you have to be OK when s--- doesn't go well, and I'm OK," Westbrook told ESPN. "I've done everything that's been asked of me here, and I'll continue to do so and ride this out as long as we can toward our ultimate goal -- and that's to win a championship.
"I have accepted everything that has been asked of me and tried to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not the ultimate decision-maker of if it's working -- or if it's not working. I'm OK with sacrificing some of the things that I've been able to do in this game to win, because that's the most important part of this game. I've done everything they've asked me to do to this point."
Well, after a Lakers win on Friday, he followed up that statement with another message, clarifying his remarks and doubling down on his stance.
“I think you know my reaction, you read it,” he told reporters. “I said I was upset about it. More upset that we didn’t win the game, that’s the most important part. After that, like I said, I’ve been here and doing my job since Day 1 and doing everything that’s been asked of me since I got here, and I’ll continue to do that for the betterment of the team and doing what’s best for us and finding ways to implement how I can make an impact on this team.”
Westbrook refused to speak to the media after the Indiana game, so it's no surprise to hear him speaking on the benching now. Judging by words, he's obviously disappointed with how things have turned out, but also seems willing to sacrifice for the sake of the team.
Going forward, it's hard to predict what might come next for the Lakeshow. Now that they are finally back in the win column, optimism is starting to rise about the future.
Whatever the case, Russ is all-in on the pursuit of a title -- even if it means giving up his role.