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Shaq drops surprising take on Russell Westbrook’s forgettable first season with LeBron James, Lakers

Shaq, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James

Critics and fans alike have pointed to more than a few reasons as to why Russell Westbrook failed to make a significant impact for the Los Angeles Lakers in his first season with the team. Lakers icon Shaquille O’Neal has now chimed in on the issue, and the Hall of Fame big man has a bit of an unexpected take on Russ’ forgettable debut season in Hollywood.

Speaking to Bill Difilippo of Uproxx, Shaq revealed that he believes Westbrook was simply being too nice:

“I don’t think it was his age. I think he was just, and I say this respectfully, I just think he was showing too much respect,” O’Neal stated. “I don’t care who I’m playing with it, I’m giving you 28. Fans pay a lot of money for me to make $100 million, I’m giving you 28. It’s not, ‘every time I get the ball, look for the other stars,’ he can play, too, so when I got the ball, I’m gonna do my thing. I can’t do my thing, I’m looking for him. That’s how you got to play. You just can’t concede all the time — here, here, here. Nah, throw me the ball, let me go to work. I gotta average 28 and 15 for personal reason and for these fans.”

Fair point from Shaq. Then again, you can’t forget that Russ joined forces with LeBron James. The King’s mere presence demands the utmost respect from his teammates, no doubt. However, Shaq feels that Westbrook showed a little bit too much of this and that he somehow lost himself in the process.

“He was just being too nice,” O’Neal continued. “I don’t know the relationship between him and LeBron, but if you put that down on paper and I don’t know nothing about basketball, that’s a hell of a backcourt, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Why it didn’t work, I don’t know, but watching him play, he was super passive. I don’t need you to be passive, I need you to play your game. I’ll be calling plays, when you get the ball after they miss a shot, run, if you ain’t got nothin, pull it out, give it to LeBron, and call some plays. That’s how it was me, he was just thinking too much. He’s a guy that, when he plays freely, he’s a monster.”

Before joining the Lakers, Westbrook averaged a triple-double with the Washington Wizards. He also led the league in assists with 11.7 per game. These are clear testaments to the fact that Russell Westbrook can still play. Surely, he couldn’t have lost all this in the span of a few months?

So, what now? Russ will (presumably) be entering his second year with the Lakers, and things just got a bit more complicated with Patrick Beverley in the mix. Can we expect a major turnaround from the former league MVP? If Shaq is right here and Westbrook decides to forgo his Mr. Nice Guy persona to get back to his old ways, so to speak, will this actually be beneficial for the Lakers? I guess we can all just wait and see.