Russell Westbrook learns what it’s like to play in the LeBron James world as the Lakers season goes sideways

Russell Westbrook He learned the most important lessons about existence LeBron James“A teammate in the wildest way: Everything you thought you knew about life in the NBA is reinforced and amplified when you play with the King.

LeBron is an amplifier. And Westbrook learns firsthand the fact that the physics of the LeBron universe are not the same as in the rest of the league.

Everything shifts, expands and contracts. spot light. Owner. Your position is very.

And when you fail – as a team, as a player, like Lakers It’s clear that Westbrook brings them together – the physics of LeBron’s world can be brutal.

Lakers 28-36. They are ninth in the Western Conference and 4.5 games behind the eighth seed with 18 games remaining in the regular season, meaning they may need to win two games in a row simply to advance to a seven-game streak that they will almost certainly lose.

Troubled times already.

And in the reality of the Lakers’ worst-case schedule, the heat has fallen, as it were, far and wide. On Anthony Davis. On coach Frank Vogel, who reported Athletic He’ll probably be kicked out except for a postseason miracle, a fact confirmed by CBS Sports. On LeBron, somewhat. And more about Westbrook and his struggles.

Enter the “Westbreak” hymns that have gone viral.

When it comes to basketball, Westbrook told the media on Monday nightAfter another Lakers loss, this is a loss for spurs“I don’t mind criticizing getting lost and taking shots. But the moment my name gets disgraced, it becomes a problem.”

What he said after that is fair. Reasonable to some extent if justice judged. But, as Clint Eastwood said in his Unforgiven, “merit has nothing to do with it.”

“I kind of left it in the past because it didn’t really bother me,” Westbrook continued. “But it kind of hit me that day. My wife and I were at teacher-parent meetings for my son. And the teacher told me, ‘Noah, he’s so proud of his family name.'” He writes it everywhere. writes on everything. He tells everyone and walks around and says, “I’m Westbrook.” …and I sat there in shock, and she hit me, like, ‘Fuck. I can’t let people go anymore [to besmirch my name]. “

It’s plausible that Westbrook would not want his last name to be used for sarcasm. When you’re a father, things look different. It’s also true – just right – that making fun of him is part of the reality of playing in the NBA.

Why, now, after so many years of distinction and inevitable frustration – and attendant sarcasm – is Westbrook reacting?

Because the physics of LeBron’s world, and what it means to get into it, is unlike anything you’ve tried before. Even if you are a Russell Westbrook.

Especially If you contact Westbrook.

That’s part of the reason Westbrook struggles so hard in Los Angeles. Yes, he is terribly fit for the LeBron James team. Yes, Westbrook’s decline coincided with the game itself being drastically evolving away from his style of play. Yes, shooting it, to say the least, is not ideal.

But the sheer weight of it all in LeBron’s presence only heightened the tension, rattled nerves and weighed heavily on a once-great player. If you once touched greatness, failure seems even more severe. If you have dealt with legitimate burdens before – for example, having to intervene at any time James Harden To abdicate, or carry a team – the shocking weight that comes with being a Laker and teammate LeBron feels even more deeply disgraced.

This is Westbrook, the faltering player, the defending father, the star with no more brilliance: he’s crumbled as much by his flaw as he is by gravity at being on LeBron James’ side.

You think, after you played with Kevin Durantwon MVP, played with Harden and already went for himself a sure ticket to the Hall of Fame, that Westbrook would be immune to the “LeBron Effect”.

But Durant is no LeBron. no one. LeBron James is a lightbar, superstar, likely future NBA GOAT, divisive political figure, magnet for expectations, locker room changer, amplifier, activist, magnate, touchstone of all the good and bad that comes with the highest levels of fame that can To give her an American sports star – all dressed in the cloak of an utterly complex man whose burdens and gifts are equal, and distributed equally to those around him, whether they can handle it or not.

This reality has swallowed up other greats – Hall of Fame players – before. Prime example: Chris Bushan NBA star who has often shrunk during his time with LeBron to the size of an afterthought.

Before and after LeBron, before Bush had to retire from the NBA for health reasons, he was a star and a focal point between two teams. with LeBron? Often outdone simply by centrifugal forces, Westbrook finds himself restless.

Bush often lost out in 2010-11, that first year in Miami in favor of the Big Three. He scored zero points in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, a game the Heat and LeBron won.

That’s what Westbrook should master, the facts of life in LeBron’s orbit. Do you want to photograph better? Yeah. play better? Of course it certainly is. Are you hoping to land a bout or turn Lakers turn Ross’ tenure in Los Angeles into a dizzying success? No doubt.

But for that to happen, Westbrook will have to do the hardest thing that exists in the NBA: learn to play in a LeBron James world, where the rules are different, and the stakes are higher, even for those who in the past thought they understood the NBA’s pressure and expectations.

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