Before Russell Westbrook scores his first basket at Staples Center, he’ll have to show his stuff on the mound at Dodger Stadium. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Westbrook will throw the ceremonial first pitch for their Lakers Day matchup with the New York Mets on Aug. 22.
Westbrook, a native of Los Angeles, has attended Dodgers games since being drafted fourth overall in 2008, but never to thrown out the first pitch. That honor has typically been reserved for Lakers and Clippers players, although Westbrook probably would have gotten a warmer reception than any Clippers player even when he was playing for a team outside of the state. For context, Chris Paul gets booed ever time he visits Dodger Stadium.
It’s safe to assume Westbrook won’t be serenaded by a chorus of boos. Not only did Westbrook play college basketball at UCLA after growing up in Southern California, but he’s a Laker, and that’s as fine of a distinction as one can get in Los Angeles. Westbrook is also just a popular player, which is more than Paul can say even as he’s become more appreciated over the last two years.
Interestingly enough, Westbrook will become just the second player on the Lakers’ current roster to throw a ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium. Anthony Davis is the only other player that has done it. It’s unclear why LeBron James didn’t do it in 2018, but it was probably out of fear that he, too, would get booed. Remember: Lakers fans haven’t always loved James.
As far as expectations go, the bar is pretty low for basketball players. For every Kobe Bryant and Anthony Davis, there are dozens of Nick Youngs and Dwight Howards. As long as Russ gets it over the plate, it’s a win.