Let’s face it, people don’t know how to deal with tough anymore. The moment that a person with a temper, excitement, attitude, or any adrenaline shows up certain folks will immediately say that they can’t work with this person. It has become a very weird but popular practice in today's society. Enter one of the greatest sports franchises in the history of sports: The Los Angeles Lakers!
The Lakers organization is legendary. In the words of the late and great Tupac “It’s the city of angels and constant danger”. There has always been an identity to the Lakers. And that identity was gritty. The identity was and is Snoop Dogg and the late Nipsey Hussle. It's the brightest stars in Hollywood and the tycoons of the business world. Fans would come out to see Magic Johnson throw beautiful behind the neck passes and watch a 7'1 grown man by the name of Shaq drop step dunk on pretend big men in front of their children. The Lakers were the premier basketball team of a league that produced Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem,Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant & Allen Iverson just to name a few. But times have changed.
In 2017 Russell Westbrook earned basketball most prestigious award, THE MVP. He didn’t win the award playing passive and being polite. He has never played the game in a way that opposing teams would want to go out to dinner after matching up against the star point god! Russell Westbrook had always been a universal soldier! Ready, deadly, willing to sacrifice it all to win. Times have changed. Basketball is no longer played between the lines on the hardwood floor. Basketball now is played throughout social media and at a time where athletes must average certain numbers all while interacting at certain levels off the court. Times have changed. Where bad highlights now dictate entire careers. Times have changed. Where an individual can average a triple double over the course of 82 games and complaints still run rampant about “stat padding”.
The Lakers no longer have an intimidating, threatening feel amongst the league. Teams no longer look at LA as the monsters any more, it’s an arena to go play in when your confidence is low. Westbrook represents the older attitude of the lakers. If you’re not winning DON’T SMILE! If teams don’t respect you, go harder. If you’re pissed off, don’t fake it! The Lakers NEED this identity. Lebron James whom is arguably the greatest player to ever hold a basketball isn’t done. Lebron is and forever will be a problem! But Lebron has never been the asshole. He’s the big brother that understands. He’s the step-father that the biological father respects. Lebron James needs Russell to be the “danger” in Tupac’s rap lyric. Russell Westbrook is not a liability. All stats aren't numerical and non numerical intangibles are hard to replace. Where a team is literally fighting aging, injuries and constant negative media attention you have a player that brings passion, a competitive edge and an attitude to a franchise that has lost its majestical identity over the years. When an organization needs someone to take on the villain role, someone strong enough to handle the chatter and negativity that comes with being apart of the greatest basketball franchise in history Westbrook may be the Lakers Darknight. I may be in the minority, and that’s ok, but I firmly believe that the Lakers need Westbrook the same way fish need water.
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