Russell Westbrook has had quite an extraordinary career. Over the course of his 13-year tenure in the NBA, he has made 9 All-Star appearances, 9 All-NBA Team rosters, and won 2 Scoring Titles. He also has an MVP for his first-ever triple-double season in 2017.
Still, fans continue to criticize Russ for his track record of losing in the playoffs, where he has only advanced to the NBA Finals once.
It got to a point where the guy actively denied the importance of winning a title, claiming that had absolutely no impact on how fulfilled and happy he felt in his life.
Well, now that he's a Laker, those words are coming back to haunt him a bit. In a recent segment on First Take, Stephen A. Smith called Westbrook out for this mentality, insisting that it wasn't going to fly as a Laker and that the pressure facing him now is more than at any point in his entire career:
"There will never, or there will never have been more pressure on Russell Westbrook with this upcoming season," Smith said. "This is the most pressure that he has been through in his career.
Now, to be fair to him, he doesn't give a damn. Russell Westbrook don't care about much. He's a rough rider, he's pig-headed, he's strong-willed. Whatever word phrase you want to think is appropriate, he don't give a damn. But from the outside world looking at him, more than ever before, his resumé is going to come into play."
Westbrook has played on some pretty great teams in the past. His early Thunder years, his partnership with Paul George, and even his stint in Houston provided him with the chance to claim the title. He failed to capture any.
In Los Angeles, playing on basketball's biggest stage, all eyes will be on him to not only perform but perform in such a way that the Lakers are actively competing for a Championship.
Will he rise to the occasion or fold under the pressure?