Earlier this offseason, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN made headlines when she revealed that before Russell Westbrook returned home to join the Lakers in a trade from the Wizards this summer, it was the other franchise in Los Angeles that he tried to navigate to: The L.A. Clippers.
As the story goes, Westbrook called Kawhi Leonard to inquire about the possibility of teaming up in their shared home city two summers ago. Leonard turned around and immediately called Paul George, who subsequently demanded a trade to join Leonard with the Clippers, leaving Westbrook spurned and without a co-star in Oklahoma City.
Well, it would appear that Westbrook hasn’t forgotten that slight, because when he was trying to get home to Los Angeles this summer, there was only one franchise he wanted to join: The Lakers. Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard revealed that... ahem... strong preference in an interview with NBC Sports Washington (emphasis mine):
“I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”
Retire Russell Westbrook’s jersey immediately.
But no, in all seriousness, if there wasn’t enough bad blood and drama between the Lakers and Clippers before — Leonard spurning LeBron James and Anthony Davis in free agency! Paul George skipping out on a chance to team-up with LeBron the summer before to join Leonard across the hall! All those corny-ass L.A. our way billboards! — there certainly is now.
So while Lakers/Clippers may not have the matchup appeal of the last couple of years as long as Leonard is out with an injury, expect Westbrook to bring a little extra juice for those showdowns this season either way.