The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook-LeBron James experiment hasn’t exactly worked out how everyone in Los Angeles had hoped coming into the season. But if Westbrook had been able to persuade Kawhi Leonard to bring him along on his way to LA a couple of years ago, Westbrook would have been a Clipper and not a Laker this year. Westbrook addressed media members when asked about this rumor floating around about him calling Leonard in hopes of teaming up a while back.
“Man, listen, I never sit back and call anybody,” Westbrook explained to the media when asked about his alleged interest in joining Leonard with the Clippers in 2019. “I sit back and wait and figure out if somebody wants to play with me, and then cool, that conversation can happen. But those private conversations that are had, I keep that to myself, so I have no answer as it pertains to that.”
It’s easy to understand Westbrook’s frustration when this topic keeps popping up repeatedly since he’s arrived in LA. Especially since the story ends with Russ being rejected by Leonard in favor of former teammate Paul George joining him with the Clippers instead. Anyone working in sports, media, or entertainment can understand the rejection aspect, yet reporters still have a job to do and need to ask these questions when they arise. If it is true that Westbrook spoke with Leonard about joining the Clippers together, then never heard back from him about it; then Russ has the right to be upset about that.
The way Russ goes at the reporter asking the question will lead most people to believe it probably went down close to — if not precisely — how the story has been laid out. Westbrook got a little defensive to the line of questioning and how the question was posed. Unfortunately for Russ, this is a topic that will probably follow him for the entirety of his playing stint in L.A.
For fans, it is fun to think of what could have been if it had been Westbrook and not George to follow Kawhi to the Clippers. I don’t know how much different it would have been, but the style of play would have been different for sure. Westbrook is far more ball-dominant than PG-13 but not nearly as versatile defensively as George has been throughout his career. We may never know the truth about this topic, but it definitely feels like a conversation was had at some point between Westbrook and Leonard about potentially teaming up. The extent of these talks and whether Leonard dissed Westbrook by not giving a definitive answer either way before choosing George is what still seems a bit murky.
We know Kawhi isn’t talking, and Westbrook is tired of hearing and talking about it, so this is one story that will remain a mystery for now. That is until someone does a tell-all book (probably not Kawhi) and exposes everything Scottie Pippen style.