It wasn't that long ago that Russell Westbrook was in the same air as guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, and Damian Lillard. Those guys are the embodiment of loyalty, and Westbrook's love for Oklahoma City helped to make him one of the most intriguing and beloved players in basketball.
Eventually, though, even Westbrook cracked under the pressure to win, demanding a trade three times over the past three years until he eventually landed on a superteam with LeBron James and the Lakers.
With his star player now gone, Wizards team owner Ted Leonsis couldn't but take notice of this fact, going so far as to compare Westbrook with Alex Ovechkin, who signed an extension with Leonsis' Capitals (of the NHL) at around the same time.
“We had a superstar player with the Wizards, he had an opportunity and wanted to be traded to the Lakers,” Leonsis said. “And I was dealing with that as we were announcing Alex.
I couldn’t help but self-reflect on what a difference it is. Here’s a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in Los Angeles. He’s an unbelievably great person and an unbelievably great player. But that’s the difference between the NBA and the NHL, I suppose.”
Doesn't seem like there is any real hatred here against Russ, but it's safe to say there are some bitter feelings on the part of Leonsis. Honestly, it's hard to blame him for it.
After so much optimism surrounding his arrival, for Westbrook to just up and leave after a single season leaves a bad taste.
On the flip side, Russ finally has the chance to play a significant role on a true title contender.
Clearly, he's willing to give up public perception for the sake of winning a Chip.