From the day Russell Westbrook put on a Lakers uniform and stepped out on the court representing LA, all eyes were on him. This means that everything he did would be amplified out into the world, especially the mistakes. Westbrook would no longer be known for his triple-doubles but his shooting woes.
During the 2021-22 season, there were plenty of ups and downs for the Lakers, but Russell Westbrook was almost always in the starting lineup. Westbrook had to play multiple games without the support of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Each time Westbrook made a mistake, it was on him. If he missed a shot, he would have to prepare for the wave of criticism that followed.
However, even though there are people who don’t appreciate the NBA All-Star, some do. According to Bill Plaschke on the Doug Gottlieb Show, Phil Jackson likes Westbrook and wants to know more about him.
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“I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded. I’ve just heard that, but I’ve got nothing to back that up. No on-the-record stuff to back that up. I do know that Phil would like to keep Westbrook and try to make that work with him.”
Without focusing on the idea of trading LeBron James, if Phil Jackson was able to take time to work with Westbrook, that could cause real improvement. Westbrook can be difficult, but he also has a lot of potential as an athlete. After all, Russ is a former league MVP, nine-time All-NBA player, and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary team.
Having a head coach who is willing to push past adversity and do everything they can to work with their players could be exactly what the Lakers need.
The search for a head coach continues, but there could be a lot of positive changes from hiring Phil Jackson.