The Los Angeles Lakers made the blockbuster move to acquire star point guard Russell Westbrook. The former league MVP’s arrival immediately places championship expectations on the Lakers. Before Westbrook embarks on his new journey, he spoke fondly about his relationship with Kobe Bryant.
Russell Westbrook joins the Lakers
The Lakers began the offseason with the big-splash move to acquire Westbrook.
Los Angeles now possesses a Big 3 that the front office quickly constructed a supporting cast filled with shooters and versatile defenders. Westbrook brings another element to the table behind his dynamic skillset as a scorer, passer, and feisty perimeter defender.
It has quickly elevated championship-or-bust expectations around the organization. Before Westbrook begins his Lakers’ tenure, he voiced his tremendous appreciation toward his relationship with a franchise all-time great.
Russell Westbrook cherishes his special bond with Kobe Bryant: ‘That’ll be with me every time I put that Lakers Jersey on’
Westbrook‘s 13-year NBA journey has led him to his hometown team.
The former league MVP grew up a fan of the franchise, while the path led him to foster a strong connection with Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The two shared a bond built on respect and admiration fueled by their shared mental approach to the game of basketball.
During his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Westbrook talked about the meaningful place in his heart that his relationship with Bryant holds.
“He hasn’t left my head,” Westbrook said. “Things that we talked about, me and him, just the potential of me being a Laker and understanding what that entails. It’s just crazy to think about. That’ll be with me every time I put that Laker jersey on.”
Bryant had a tremendous impact on Westbrook that only fueled his internal passion for the game. The opportunity to wear the Lakers uniform with the chance to compete for an NBA championship is something he can’t wait to officially begin.
“It’s surreal it kind of hasn’t hit me yet being from LA growing up not too far from here,” Westbrook said. “Being able to watch parades and miss school to try and go them. Being a Laker fan and being from LA, but now everything coming full circle for me is a blessing. It’s a lot of things I can’t put into actual words because these dreams don’t come true for people like myself. I am truly blessed and thankful for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
Lakers ready to push toward NBA title contention
With Westbrook in the fold, the Lakers will move toward finding the best formula for success.
The task of blending in the 32-year-old’s all-around skillset alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis will present a tough challenge. Despite that, head coach Frank Vogel voiced confidence the trio will find a way to mess well together.
“Anytime you have three great players like this, there is an element of sacrifice required,” Frank Vogel said. “We all talked about it and are all in on it. But these three guys can do it all. What I love is LeBron, AD, and Russ, and they are all make-the-right players. I am most excited to seeing what these guys will look like on the court together. We are going to be an extremely dynamic-fast breaking team.”
The Lakers will experience growing pains along the way as they find the best playing style that gets the most out of the revamped roster. James and Westbrook will have the most work toward finding the balance working together. At the same time, the nine-time All-Star realizes the promising situation he is entering in Los Angeles.
“One thing I have done throughout my career is stay true to myself,” Westbrook said. “I think that can never waver in this league. I have been in this league for a long time and I always stay true to who I am. But with that, I am going to make sure I am to listen and be all ears because I am coming to an unbelievable organization, team, and players that I am able to learn from.”