Russell Westbrook may not be the best player in the NBA, but he’s definitely one of the most famous point guards in the league. Whether you got love for him or not, you can’t deny that he has had one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. In the 2016-17 season, he completed the Year of Russ by winning his first-ever NBA MVP award and giving us an unforgettable season that we’ll talk about for years and decades to come. This was the season where he became the first NBAer since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double, but there was more to the story. His superhuman achievements were powered by a range of emotions and any fan could relate to that. He was often funny, petty, embarrassing, disappointing and spectacular—all at the same time.
Despite his notable accomplishments, Westbrook is still one of the most hated men in the world of basketball. His haters range from the average Twitter trolls to two-time NBA champion Steph Curry. On the bright side, his lovers range from his wife Nina Earl (college sweetheart) to Houston Rockets guard and former college opponent James Harden. We’re pretty sure that you’ll recognize some of the names that we’re about to mention in this love and hate list, but you might have to look up a couple of them to refresh your memory. Either way, we’re sure that you’ll find this list interesting and share it with your friends and families.
Here are eight people who hate Westbrook and seven who love him.
15. Hate: Jeremy Lamb
Shooting guard Jeremy Lamb plays for the Charlotte Hornets now, but he spent three years with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2012 to 2015. Lamb doesn’t seem to like Russell Westbrook as he has denied him a high-five during a game the 2014-15 NBA season. It was also reported that Westbrook gave Lamb an ice-cold stare at a game following the alleged incident.
Westbrook later shook off the incident, saying that it was something that they talked about previously. He added that they also talked about shaking guys’ hands and he missed his hand so it was something that they joked around with.
Lamb’s game has improved since he left the Thunder on a trade to the Hornets in exchange for guard Luke Ridnour and a 2016 second-round pick. Lamb later called Westbrook a ‘good dude’ and added that both Westbrook and Kevin Durant congratulated him on his new contract. Looks like everyone’s good now.
14. Love: LeBron James
LeBron James’ reported friendship with Westbrook isn’t as documented like his longtime bromance with shooting and former teammate Dwyane Wade, but it’s still something worth discussing. After all, LeBron’s a three-time NBA champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time NBA MVP, 13-time NBA All-Star, and most of all, the highest-paid player in the league. LeBron’s nickname is “the King” for a reason.
After Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension with the Thunder on September 29, 2017, LeBron took some time out of his day to congratulate Westbrook, who surpassed Steph Curry in signing the richest guaranteed contract in league history. In addition, there have been reports that LeBron wants to team up with Westbrook in the near future, but it should be obvious that nothing has been confirmed yet. But at least these two continue to keep in touch as the days go by. They don’t seem to stop being friends anytime soon.
13. Hate: D.J. Augustin
We don’t know the exact reason why guard D.J. Augustin appeared to be very grateful when the Thunder traded him, forward Steve Novak, two second-round picks along with cash consideration, to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for guard Randy Foye.
Augustin’s now 30 years old and playing on his eighth NBA team, the Orlando Magic, but hasn’t even registered 10 points per game like most of his previous seasons. He’s not even worthy of being a starter anymore.
Like we mentioned earlier, Augustin was so happy when the Thunder traded him to the Nuggets that he even thanked the organization in a straightforward statement. He told the team, “It means a lot to me…My situation in Oklahoma didn’t work out. It was big for [them] to trade me.” Who knows, he might’ve felt overshadowed by the power of Westbrook and Durant, which made him look like an unimportant player on the court.
12. Love: James Harden
Speaking of the Thunder’s “Big Three,” Reggie Jackson may have left OKC feeling under-utilized and under-appreciated, but it doesn’t mean he couldn’t recognize real when he saw it. The fact that Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden shared a court for three seasons from 2009-12 was truly real.
Yeah, Jackson left the Thunder feeling under-appreciated, but he had something affirmative to say about the “Big Three.” Jackson told Hoops Hype, “Man, the youth of the guys at the time and just the environment and how everybody felt about each other, I can’t be the one to say it wouldn’t. I can’t envision that it wouldn’t. It was special. ” Jackson added, “Because when they had it rolling, they had it rolling. And they were all happy for each other. Sometimes one basketball isn’t enough, they say.”
11. Hate: Kevin Martin
Former guard Kevin Martin might’ve taken a shot at Westbrook after signing a four-year, $28 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves on July 2, 2013. Martin spent three years in Minnesota from 2013 to 2016. Following a brief stint with the San Antonio Spurs and a total of 12 seasons, Martin retired from the NBA on November 24, 2016.
Martin may be a forgotten now, but we’ll always remember what he said when he played for the Timberwolves in his early days in Minnesota. Martin said that the Timberwolves were such a fun team to play on. Ironically, Durant also left the Thunder in 2016. But seriously, we can’t blame Martin for not liking the Thunder. Martin wasn’t an overachiever with 14 points per game in his only season with the Thunder. He just didn’t seem to fit in with the other star players on the popular Western Conference team.
10. Love: Taylor Swift
Remember when pop country singer Taylor Swift congratulated Westbrook on winning his NBA MVP award?
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) June 27, 2017
Swift never played basketball, but that didn’t stop her from sending a congratulatory video to Westbrook on June 26, 2017. According to CBS Sports, Swift joked to the 29-year-old, saying, “So that’s why I’m part of your congratulations video…Because we go back like 20 years. Actually, we’ve never met and that’s sad. That’s a fake story. But I wish it were the truth. You’re amazing. You’re the MVP. I am so happy for you.”
Although Swift and Westbrook have never met in person, the two superstars have mutually admired each other from a distance. Westbrook jammed to some Swift songs two years ago in a viral video.
9. Hate: Jeff Green
Jeff Green has managed a fairly steady career, but the reported reason why he left the Thunder in the middle of his fourth year was because he felt like he could be something more with another team.
In 2011, Green told Slam Online, “Yeah, man, you know a lot of people don’t know what I can really do…In Oklahoma, I was kind of overshadowed by Kevin (Durant) and the way Russell (Westbrook) picked up, but, excuse my language, I can really (expletive) play. I can really play this game, man.’”
Despite feeling like he was held back as a teammate in his Thunder days, Green had some positive things to say about Westbrook. He recalled to the Los Angeles Daily News, “I was with Russ since his rookie year…You develop friendships and relationships with those guys and they still stay intact…But your career still goes on.” Well, he’s right.
8. Love: Steven Adams
The Thunder’s current starting center Steven Adams has credited Westbrook with helping him navigate the world of basketball. Despite the different upbringings among the two, the Kiwi of Tongan and English ancestry had a lot of good things to say about the Southern California native.
Adams told Sports Illustrated, “Russ is always the first person to help…But if you try to reciprocate, he’s the last person to accept help himself.” He bears every burden. He betrays no weakness.”
Adams is also a fan of Westbrook’s upfront manner of communication. He said, “One way or another he lets you know where you stand,” Adams says, “and he doesn’t do it with a whisper. He does it with a few more decibels than that…He blasts me all the time because I’m fine with it…He can scream in the middle of a game, ‘F… that!’ and we’re totally cool. But I see him take another approach with others.”
7. Hate: Reggie Jackson
Point guard Reggie Jackson certainly didn’t hold back when he was in his final season with the Thunder in 2014-15.
Jackson told News OK, “I wasn’t happy…I knew I wasn’t going to be happy in the role that I was placed in, especially with the way everything was moving forward. It wasn’t rocket science… I just wasn’t going to be able to find minutes. And it’s kind of hard, of course, to ask to cut the minutes of a top five point guard in the league so that you can get more.”
Jackson’s apparent hatred towards Westbrook caused him to alienate himself from most players in the locker room. Jackson also wrote “SPG” on his shoes, which was a creative abbreviation for “starting point guard.” He later demanded a trade, and was sent to the Detroit Pistons on February 19, 2015. After a Pistons win towards the end of the season over his former team, Jackson celebrated by revving up the home crowd. Westbrook was definitely not pleased, calling BS on the celebration.
6. Love: Kyle Madson
Kyle Madson isn’t a household name, but he’s a managing editor at Titans Wire of USA TODAY Sports Media Group and a regular participant of a morning sports radio show on The Drive 1140 in Sacramento, California. The Drive 1140. Earlier this year, Madson dropped a hint that he loves Westbrook.
Take a look at Madson’s tweet from February 2, 2017.
My favorite excerpt from that Westbrook piece pic.twitter.com/779wHMrNk6
— Kyle Madson (@KyleAMadson) February 2, 2017
Madson emphasized the part of a column about Westbrook’s encouraging behavior at a Book Bus event Westbrook handed one young boy a bracelet and a bookmark. He then followed up with a friendly reminder to all of the children who passed by him to board the bus.
According to the column, it didn’t seem like Westbrook told each kid to tie his or her shoes because he had to do so. Instead, it seemed like Westbrook identified a public safety epidemic and wanted to do something about it.
5. Hate: Serge Ibaka
What if power forward Serge Ibaka took Harden’s spot as the third man in the Thunder’s “Big Three” and flipped the script?
Sure, Ibaka seemed to have improved in his second (2013-14) and third (2014-15) seasons with the Thunder, averaging 15.1 and 14.3 points per game in those respective seasons, but he saw a slip in his fourth (and final) season with just 12.6 points per game. Ibaka was traded to the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic, but hasn’t displayed insane numbers. Though, decent numbers seem to do the trick for him as he told the Orlando Sentinel, “I’m looking to stay here to play forever.”
We don’t know if he’s going to play basketball forever or at least until he turns 40, but we can confirm that he sent a message to Westbrook in his final season. “I’m gonna tell you the truth, it’s hard sometimes when you play hard, you play your (butt off),” Ibaka said, before apologizing and rephrasing. “You play so hard on defense, then you come to offense and you’re going to be out there in the corner for 4, 5, 6, sometimes 8 minutes and you don’t touch the ball. We human, man. It’s hard.”
4. Love: Sam Anderson
New York Times writer Sam Anderson wrote a column titled ‘The Misunderstood Genius of Russell Westbrook’ earlier this year. We don’t know if Anderson’s actually a Thunder fan or even just a basketball fan in general, but with a title like that, we’re pretty sure that he has a tremendous amount of respect for Westbrook. After all, Westbrook’s an NBA player who’s often misunderstood (and hated on) by the masses.
In his column, Anderson mentioned about how Westbrook’s now playing against history. Anderson definitely had the stats, facts and quotes to back himself up, but he still wrote in a pro-Westbrook manner, which certainly isn’t something that you see everyday.
You don’t have to agree with Anderson, but he did bring up some positive traits in his column such as Westbrook’s humbleness, which compliments his strong work ethic perfectly. That being said, it’s clear that Anderson was in favor of Westbrook.
3. Hate: Steph Curry
If you took a guess and thought Steph Curry didn’t like Westbrook, you’re correct. Aside from King James, Russ has a disdain towards Steph. There’s an extra dose of off-the-court shenanigans for you.
During the 2015 NBA Playoffs, Westbrook laughed after being asked a question about Curry’s defense. Also, a Warriors beat writer named Marcus Thompson appeared on a radio show called “The Big Lead” and explained why players like James and Westbrook don’t like Curry. Thompson said, “if somebody doesn’t like Steph Curry, I think it’s probably Westbrook. He just shows no sign of … this ain’t really about Steph, it’s bigger. His seems to be, ‘I don’t like that dude.’ … There’s something that burns them about the fact that Steph is the one that is exalted and because of that they want to go at him and demean his hype. They want to take him down.”
In addition, let’s not forget the scuffle that Curry and Westbrook had last season.
2. Love: Nina Earl
Just like her hubby, Nina Earl was a basketball player who played at UCLA in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, California. In her junior year at UCLA, Earl shot a career-best .512 from the field. She was a starter in the first five games of the season. She had multiple steals in 12 games, played double-figure minutes in 22 games and scored a season-best 13 points vs. Washington State University for her 21st career double-digit scoring game. She played in 30 games and earned a pair of starts for the Bruins. She recorded four double-figure games.
Today, Earl’s known for being the wife and college sweetheart of Westbrook, whom she married on August 29, 2015. The couple welcomed a baby boy named Noah Russell Westbrook on May 16, 2017. They’re definitely an example of a super adorable family who has lots of love towards one another. Thus, it’s okay to say “aww” right now.
1. Hate: Kevin Durant
Okay, this list wouldn’t have been complete without mentioning forward Kevin Durant. Unless if you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of the fact Durant left the Thunder in search of his first championship ring, which he did indeed capture with the Warriors after the 2016 NBA Finals. That’s a wonderful feat for Durant, but he pretty much left Westbrook all alone in Oklahoma City.
Durant has had beef with Westbrook and likely still holds something against him. As far as we know, Westbrook opened up to CBS Sports about Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder. Westbrook asked and then told sports writer Matt Moore, “Hurt? I mean, I’m fine. Move forward. Things happen in life, man. As a man you’ve got to move forward. I’ve got a great group of guys here that I love like my brothers. There are many teammates that I had here before that left me that are my brothers, that I talk to, that I don’t talk to. Not just Kevin. There’s many guys that come into Oklahoma City that I feel a relationship with that you guys might not know about, but obviously Kevin’s a little bigger stage.”
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