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Los Angeles Lakers owner on Russell Westbrook: ‘From my point of view, he was our best players last year’

los angeles lakers, russell westbrook
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a very disappointing performance for Russell Westbrook in his debut season with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team’s owner gained a lot of respect for the former league MVP’s efforts last year and even believes he was one of the team’s best players in 2021-2022.

When the Lakers added Westbrook in the summer of 2021 the assumption was that the organization had a three-headed superstar monster — along with Lebron James and Anthony Davis — that made them favorites to win an NBA title. However, as we now know the exact opposite occurred.

Davis missed much of the season with injuries, James had his own health issues, and Westbrook was dubbed “Westbrick” by the Lakers faithful for his performance throughout the season. It was so bad that the team couldn’t even reach the NBA playoffs play-in tournament. However, despite consistent rumblings about the organization attempting to move the nine-time All-Star over the last few months, Los Angeles Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss was a fan of the effort put out by Westbrook during a forgettable year.

Related: Lakers reportedly discussed 3 team trade with New York Knicks involving Russell Westbrook

In a Tuesday conversation with The Athletic to promote a Hulu documentary series about the Los Angeles Lakers’ rich history, Buss explained her belief on why Westbrook was one of the best players the team had last season.

“All I can say is that, from my point of view, he was our best player last year. He played pretty much every single game, showed up, worked hard. You know, I would have loved to have seen what this team would have looked like if they stayed healthy. It’s really tough to win when Anthony Davis isn’t on the court. LeBron was hurt a lot of the season. But Russ showed up every game and played hard every night. And, you know, I just really appreciate him for who he is and what he brings to the team.”

Jeanie Buss on Russell Westbrook

Following the interview, Buss adjusted her original comment by telling the outlet she really meant to say Westbrook was the Lakers’ most “consistent” player last season instead of one of their “best.”

Los Angeles Lakers Jeanie Buss has no concerns about Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley’s locker room dynamic

los angeles lakers, russell westbrook
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A new concern — beyond getting the 33-year-old back to his All-Star form — is what the locker room situation will now be like following the acquisition of defensive fire cracker Patrick Beverley. The duo has long had issues and rivalry that have lasted for years. Yet Buss is not concerned about possible locker room problems between the two and believes it’s all an attempt by fans and media to “create something” for interesting storylines.

  • Russell Westbrook stats (2021): 18.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.0 SPG

“Yeah, I remember all the video that circulated when the Lakers brought in Matt Barnes, (with) his relationship with Kobe over the years (and) being one of the best defenders on Kobe. And now he becomes teammates with Kobe. We’ve seen these storylines before. Pat Beverley was brought here to play defense, to be that guy that knows how to push his teammates, (who) sets an example with how he approaches his job. The day of the trade, he was already here after work hours working out. I got a chance to say hello to him as I was leaving for the day. He just brings that work ethic that we value, that coach Ham values and is going to be a leader in the locker room. So it has nothing to do with Russ. And like I said, I think that people, they love to pull up storylines and create something and that just isn’t the case.”