Russell Westbrook’s 2021-22 campaign will not be one he’ll likely choose or want to remember for a variety of reasons. A season of poor on-court play has led to a barrage of criticism off of it, criticism he spoke out about for crossing a line into becoming a bit too personal.
One of the bright spots nad parts of the season he may choose to look back upon fondly, though, has been the numerous NBA players, teammates or not and friend or former foe, who have gone out of their way to offer support to him.
The most recent among those is perhaps one of the most surprising in Clippers point guard Reggie Jackson. Westbrook and Jackson have quite the history with a not-so-cordial relationship despite being teammates for 3.5 seasons in Oklahoma City.
That animosity never simmered down even after Jackson was dealt and flashed up once again in a recent Lakers-Clippers showdown as Jackson danced away in the fourth quarter as capped off a 36-point night.
Despite that, though, Jackson recently talked about his relationship with Westbrook, the hatchet being buried between the pair while thanking him for what he taught him early in his career in a recent article by Sam Amick of The Athletic.
We play pick up and all (during the offseason). There’s no problem (laughs) — at all. I always wish him well, always tell him to tell his family what’s up for me. He was definitely — even though we were around the same age — he was definitely my vet, showing me the ropes, taking me around, making me comfortable. I think a lot of my aggression and my fire, and the way I play is because we’re all a product of our environment. So I also felt like I was raised under him as well. I’m always appreciative of Russ and thankful for all he’s done for me during my career. He raised me and showed me the ropes, especially preparing me for… what it was going to be like being a starter in the league and taking your lumps, the ups and downs and staying confident in yourself and even keel. I think a lot of that was from watching him and just getting to pick his brain and talk to him. But when we get out there and it’s time to compete, there’s no friends (laughs).
While it’s not any sort of direct support of Westbrook in his current situation against Lakers fans, it was a decision by Jackson to not further the feud between the two when asked about it and, instead, downplaying the matter at a time when things are less than ideal for Westbrook.
A player who did offer direct support of Westbrook though was, again, another unlikely source in former Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder. On a post of a late airball by Westbrook in Wednesday’s loss to the Timberwolves, Schröder came to Westbrook’s defense in the comments.
Dennis Schroder is standing up for his former teammate, Russell Westbrook pic.twitter.com/eEQ4xtsgU1— J (@RockTheBabyRuss) March 17, 2022
Perhaps most surprising about the comment is that he didn’t include “That’s Tuff” at the end of it, but I digress.
Still, while Westbrook’s struggles have been extreme this season, the inability or unwillingness for fans to keep their complaints on the court and civil has been disappointing. Seeing so many players come to his defense is yet another example of the brotherhood of the NBA and the bond the players have built even by just being in the league together.