Nobody associated with the Los Angeles Lakers was in a good mood following the team’s non-competitive 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. That included Russell Westbrook, who nearly stormed out of his postgame press conference after taking issue with an innocuous question.
You can watch the full exchange between Westbrook and Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times — a veteran, popular, extremely friendly reporter — here.
To summarize, Turner asked Westbrook what needs to change for the Lakers going forward, now that the team is officially outside of the Play-In range and sitting as the No. 11 seed (both the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs are 31-44, but the Spurs have clinched the tiebreaker and have a drastically easier remaining schedule). Instead of attempting to seriously answer the question, Westbrook threw it back at Turner, who said he wanted to hear from the player. After a tense back and forth, Westbrook scoffed and left the podium.
Here’s the full transcript:
Turner: Russ, now you guys are actually the 11th seed, out of the Play-In game. What changes going forward?
Westbrook: Nothing man, nothing.
And why is that?
Because it doesn’t. What does it change? We’ve still got games to play. Other teams still got games to play. We’ve still got to play teams that are above us in the Play-In. It doesn’t change much. What do you think should change?
I mean, something.
Okay, that’s obvious, what do you think should change?
Winning. Winning games. Playing hard. You asked the question, I gave you an answer.
That’s fine. Do you have the answer to winning?
I’m not up there playing. You give me your answer of what you think you should do.
Exactly. I don’t have to answer. Exactly.
If you don’t have it, you’re out there, I can’t help you.
So why are you asking me and thinking I have the answer and you don’t have it either?
Well, but I don’t play, Russell. I want to get the information from you so that I can —
I’m only one person, champ. It’s a team game. So I don’t have an answer. You can give me your answer.
I don’t have it. But I’m asking the pro who knows the game, plays the game, what you think you can do to make it better.
Yeah. For sure. No I respect that. Y’all got that? All right, cool.
Westbrook and Turner then dapped up and shared a chuckle before Westbrook walked out of the room.
Russ is understandably frustrated about yet another embarrassing loss on top of yet another injury to LeBron James (he’s not expected to play until Friday, at the earliest). And he frequently claps back at reporters for asking slightly different versions of the same question in the postgame. He is welcome to dislike the question and respond how he pleases.
However, the exchange is indicative of two themes from this Lakers season, beyond general exasperation. The Lakers have been unable to break their bad habits and meaningfully change their ways — resulting in repetitive questions from reporters. Secondly, Westbrook’s defensive attitude when given the opportunity to show accountability has been a regular occurrence.
In fact, earlier in the presser, Westbrook responded to a question about the Lakers’ (failed) defensive gameplan against Luka Doncic (who dropped 34/12/12) by saying “I wasn’t personally trying to figure it out.”
These are probably not the soundbites Lakers fans want to hear from the team’s highest-paid player — who is known to be unwilling to take criticism in film sessions, in addition to media appearances — with time rapidly running out on the season.