With the definitive dismissal of Frank Vogel as head coach of Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the week, Russell Westbrook made things even clearer about the relationship between him and his former coach during the Californian team’s end-of-season press conference, where the 33-year-old point guard participated along with the rest of his teammates.
In it, Westbrook openly discussed several topics surrounding his season, which has been the poorest of his career for more than 10 years. The most striking part of his statements was when answering questions about his relationship with Vogel, when he detailed that at the beginning of this, Russell himself had sent him a bottle of champagne in good spirits for his arrival to the team and the anniversary with Frank’s wife (both dates coincided), but from then on there was never an understanding between the two.
Russell Westbrook’s Statements
”I think it’s unfortunate, to be honest, because I’ve never had an issue with any of my coaches before. From the moment I arrived here even though you don’t know it, it was the anniversary between Frank (Vogel) and his wife, I sent them a bottle of champagne which he had no idea about, just because I am that kind of person, I thought it was a nice gesture in my arrival to the team.”
“I’m not sure what his issue was with me or I’m not sure why, but I can’t really give you an answer to why we really never connected.”Russell Westbrook, on his relationship with former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
In addition to these statements, while admitting that his level was not up to his usual standard, Westbrook was defensive, implying that the yardstick by which he measured his performance was his past performances and nothing else. The veteran believes that ”he was not given a fair chance” in her arrival to the team despite never being removed from the starting lineup.
”The famous ‘source’ stories that came out about myself, whether it be between me and the staff, me and Frank, me and the fans, there’s just so many made-up stories that are not true. It’s just always having to fight against that constantly. It’s just not [being] given a fair chance. When I first got here, the ability to be able to do what I’m able to do for a team and an organization wasn’t given a fair chance.”Russell Westbrook on his feelings with the Lakers during his first season.
Even with the support of his teammates in the same presentation to the media, Westbrook did not want to give in to his thoughts that had he played ”the way he is used to” the Lakers would have performed better, denying even the opportunity his colleagues gave him to enable his game. He also wanted to emphasize that there has never been a way to utilize all the talents of the roster available to coach Frank Vogel.
In the final instance of his address to the press, Russell clarified that he has not yet made a decision regarding the player option he has in his contract for the upcoming season, which would keep him as a player with the Lakers through 2023 with a salary of more than $47 million. It is expected around the league that it will be exercised despite Westbrook’s poor season with the Los Angeles team.
The nine-time All-Star averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists and one steal on 44.4% efficiency from the field and 29.8% three-point shooting through 78 games this season. Will Russell Westbrook stay with the Lakers next season? Or will they themselves get rid of him?