Russell Westbrook Has A Right To Stand Up For Himself, But This Cycle Of Stopping The Game To Argue With Fans Needs To End

Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook got into a back-and-forth with a fan in the closing seconds of Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Westbrook was so locked in on the fan interaction that referee Lauren Holtkamp had to redirect him onto the floor. This isn’t the first time Westbrook has gotten into it with fans. He’s had a dozen documented incidents. He has a right to stand up for himself if fans cross the line. But at some point this needs to end.

“Fans think they can say whatever they want,” Westbrook said following the game. “I’m not going to say it now, because it’s not appropriate, but I’m just protecting myself. That’s about it.”

Fans Are Allowed Too Much Leeway

If you’re familiar with my work you know that I’m as pro-player as they become. We allow fans too much leeway to talk slick because they buy tickets.

Buying a ticket gives you the right to see a basketball game. You can show your fandom in any way that is appropriate and doesn’t cross the line of something that you know is wrong. We all know what that line is. You can cheer, boo, and heckle. All of that is within bounds.

Calling out a player’s family, whether it be mother, wife, children, girlfriend etc. is off limits. Every fan should know that. Shouting expletives and other profanities at players or their families is also out of bounds.

We don’t know what was said to Westbrook and it clearly got him aggravated.

“If I’m responding, it’s a reason I’m responding, and I’ll protect that always,” Westbrook continued. “I mean, it’s a little different now. I tell people, man, when I was first starting in the league, maybe not so much, I used to get into it a little bit. But now having kids and understanding how important it is, not just myself, but my last name. Understanding what Westbrook means, understanding how important that is to my dad, my grandfather, my family. … Now my son is old enough to know what’s going on and understanding, asking me, ‘Hey Dad, what does that mean? What’s that?’ Now I got to stand on it, and regardless of where I’m at, what’s going on, I’m always standing on that.”

That may be the best insight into what was allegedly said by the fan. We know that Westbrook doesn’t like being referred to as “Westbrick,” a derisive play on his last name in reference to his poor shooting ability.

For It To Stop Westbrook Has To Let It Go

Westbrook is the third of his name. His grandfather is Russell Westbrook Sr., his father is Russell Westbrook Jr., and he is the third.

For families that continue names throughout generations, that means something. To what extent it has meaning, I guess it varies. Nonetheless, that’s the man’s name.

However, in the grand scheme of things that have been said to him throughout his career and the thousands of NBA players, that’s on the milder end.

Nobody should play with another person’s name. But at some point this just needs to end.

Westbrook’s former teammate Kevin Durant is often seen getting into exchanges with fans sitting court side. No doubt KD is hit with all manner of jeers, whether it be about having fake rings, always joining super teams, being washed or whatever.

Funny thing is KD’s interactions tend to go differently. He’ll retort back with something and then usually do something devastating offensively to said fan’s favorite team. Then he’ll shoot back at that fan’s direction. The chatter usually stops.

KD is still an elite player, and nothing shuts up a heckling fan more than beating their team.

Westbrook is no longer that level of player. He has flashes. But cannot consistently silence the crowd. Maybe that plays into his feelings a bit as well.

Not to mention if “Westbrick” was said by the fan, it hurts because it’s true. He’s never been a good shooter, even in his prime. This season he’s shooting 54 percent at the rim, 38 percent in the midrange, 27 percent from three and 64 percent from the free-throw line. All terrible percentages.

It’s a shame that it has evolved to this point. But certain fans know the “magic word” to get Westbrook to react, and that’s what they want. Sadly, if he wants it to end, he’s got to be the bigger person and let it go.

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