However you feel about that era of Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, the world is a better place because Robert Horry played for them in the 2000s. His performance in Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons gave us something to remember from that dry white toast of a seven-game series, and the shot to even the series, 2-2 for the Lakers against the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals is one of the league’s most indelible moments. Horry came through again last night, this time burying a game-winner for the people while wearing a suit and tie.
The Lakers lost last night. Nothing new there, but that specific 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks knocked the Lakers out of the play-in tournament with seven games remaining in their regular season. Los Angeles Times reporter, Brad Turner had a simple question for Russell Westbrook after the game. With the Lakers falling out of the play-in, “What needs to change?”
The ever defensive — everywhere except on the court — Westbrook responded “nothing” needs to be changed. That’s right, nothing needs to change on a team that had championship aspirations at the beginning of the season, and near the end is 13 games under .500. After Westbrooks initial response he then asked Turner for an opinion on what changes need to be made. Turner replied “winning,” and that response frustrated Westbrook who then confronted Turner. It wasn’t like Ryan Leaf screaming at reporters, but he clearly wasn’t happy.
That entire interaction amused Horry. As soon as the press conference ended, he decided to point out just how ridiculous it was by FaceTiming Turner Live on Access Sportsnet Lakers.
Westbrook has done this earlier in the season. When he was asked earlier this month how he’d been dealing with the Lakers’ struggles, Westbrook seized on the way that the reporter asked the question. The reporter said directly that the season isn’t going to the way that Westbrook envisioned it. Westbrook replied, “What did I envision?” A back and forth ensued for about a minute until Westbrook simply said, “I had no expectations. I come into every situation the same.”
Regardless of whether or not you believe that former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook had no expectations when being traded to a team with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, this unnecessary combativeness with reporters is getting old. If he doesn’t want to answer the question, sit there for the time that the league requires and say nothing literally or figuratively. But he should stop bothering people who are doing their job well by asking legitimate questions about the Lakers’ struggles.
It’s not entirely his fault the Lakers’ 2021-22 season has been a complete disaster. Injuries have had a lot to do with it as Davis has missed most of this season, and the team was put in a tough spot early with James missing some time. However, the reason that he was brought to LA was to help steady the ship when James and Davis would inevitably miss time so the way that the Lakers tumbled in the standings late season wouldn’t happen again.
Instead, the Lakers look a few rotation players short of what is necessary to be a truly competitive team in the NBA. Westbrook did not demand that the Lakers slice their roster to acquire him, and ruin one of the best defenses in the league, but that’s what happened. It appears — and for the record I’m not definitively saying I know what’s going on in Westbrook’s head so he won’t grill me on semantics should he ever read this — that he is frustrated.
He’s one of the most competitive players in the league, and seemed excited to be back home when he was on stage crip walking after the trade, and following a monster second half of last season with the Washington Wizards. Instead, this glamor franchise has been the joke of the NBA, and the Lakers are far more interesting Sunday nights on HBO.
He has every right to be upset this season with the barrage of criticism and the results on the court. He also has the right to keep to himself his frustrations with this season. But if he’s going to act silly the way that he did last night, then people like Robert Horry need to call him out for it, because the people who definitely are not at fault for the Lakers’ poor season are the people asking him questions.