It's been nearly two weeks since Russell Westbrook requested to move to the bench after the Los Angeles Clippers acquired James Harden, a move that initially threw the Clips chemistry out of whack. But in the five games since Westbrook became LA's sixth man, the Clippers have seemingly, and perhaps only momentarily, turned their season around. The Clips secured their fourth win in the last five games last night against the Dallas Mavericks, who have come back down to earth after a scorching start to the season.
What's interesting here is there is an alternate reality where James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant are all still in Brooklyn, playing for the Nets and proving to be a worthy Eastern Conference contender so long as all three members of their Big Three could be on the court at the same time. But of course, the reality we're living in is the one where Kyrie Irving has instead established himself as one of the most polarizing professional athletes of the last decade, and found himself a member of the Cavs.
For entirely different reasons, Westbrook too is high on the list of polarizing athletes. His off-court antics are essentially non-existent in comparison to Irving's, but there's clearly a mutual bond or respect between the two… one that Westbrook took the time to speak about after the Clippers win, per Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints.
Russell Westbrook on Kyrie Irving:
“Worked out in the summer… I respect him for everything that he stands for & stands on, especially his family… Mutual respect. I’m always thankful for him supporting me through everything since I’ve been in the league.”pic.twitter.com/uwVJyrXS0G
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) November 26, 2023
Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook couldn't be further apart when examining their respective styles of play. Irving thrives with silky smooth precision, sweet handles and a picturesque shooting stoke, while Westbrook has built a Hall of Fame career on brute force and an endless motor. But where they are and have always been similar is that each man is unapologetically authentic and true to himself, and clearly, that's where the mutual respect comes from.