Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook shed light on the harassment he and his family have experienced this season. In particular, Westbrook said he supports his wife, who in a recent Twitter thread mentioned her family has received "death wishes."
"Right now, she's reached a point, and my family has reached a point to where it's really weighing on them, and it's very unfortunate just for me, personally, because this is just a game. This is just a game. This is not end-all, be-all," Westbrook said following the Lakers' 117-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, courtesy of Spectrum SportsNet. "When it comes to basketball, I don't mind the criticism of missing and making shots. But the moment it becomes where my name is getting shamed, it becomes an issue."
Westbrook went on to highlight a recent parent-teacher interview at his son's school that opened his eyes to the importance of protecting his family name.
"Honestly, me and my wife were at a parent-teacher conference for my son. And the teacher told me, she's like, 'Noah is so proud of his last name. He writes it everywhere. He writes it on everything. He tells everybody, walks around, and says 'I'm Westbrook, Westbrook.'' That's his last name.
"And I kinda sat there in shock, and it hit me like, damn, I can no longer allow people - for example, 'Westbrick' to me now is shaming. Like, it's shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It's a name that means more, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kinda paved the way for me. And that's just one example."
Westbrook addressed criticism directed his way head-on during Tuesday's loss. He jawed with a spectator at AT&T Center and told the individual, "don't disrespect my name."
The 33-year-old also mentioned his family no longer enjoys attending games as a result.
"It's very unfortunate. It's been like this for my entire career. I've been blessed, man, and super thankful for the ones around me and the ones that support me," Westbrook added. "But it's really the shaming of my name, the shaming of my character, the shaming of who I am as a person, to me is not warranted. I haven't done anything to anyone. I haven't hurt anyone. I haven't done anything but play basketball a way that people may not like."
Westbrook, who's the team's highest-paid player with a $44-million salary, is averaging 18.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.2 assists in 63 games.
Los Angeles (28-36) currently sits ninth in the Western Conference with 18 games remaining.