Russell Westbrook is a 9x All-Star, 9x All-NBA player, 2x Scoring Champ, and 2017 MVP who has averaged a triple-double four different times throughout his career.
By most metrics, he's considered a bonafide star in this league. But, according to Shaquille O'Neal, he's nothing more than a role player.
In a chat with the LA Times, the Lakers legend made a rather shocking statement about Russ, downgrading his status from a superstar to role player for the Purple and Gold.
“They still need role players, right?” O’Neal said, via the LA Times. “I see Russ as a role player, a damned good one, but he’s a role player. It’s LeBron [James] first, AD (Anthony Davis) second and then Russ. He can get his stuff on the break.”
There is no question that Russ had a rather ugly Lakers debut, posting just eight points on 4-for-13 shooting in a loss to Golden State.
Since that underwhelming night, fans and members of the media have questioned his fit on the team, doubting that a guy with his playstyle (and shooting flaws) could make things work next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Doing his best to calm everyone down, LeBron James told the media what he told Russ about his first game with the team:
"LeBron said he told Russell Westbrook to go home and watch a comedy, or be with his children — to do something that will make him smile and keep the loss in perspective: “I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself.”
In the end, it was just one game out of 82. There are still plenty more to go.
But, star or no star, the Lakers are going to need more from him than he provided in that first game and it'll be up to him to rise to the occasion and prove everyone wrong.