Lakers' Russell Westbrook: Back Injury from Unfamiliarity with Sitting Long Stretches

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 11, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 8: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 8, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Russell Westbrook didn't play in Wednesday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers because of back tightness, and the Los Angeles Lakers guard partially attributed the physical issues to the extended time he has spent on the bench this season.

Westbrook said part of the problem is he is not used "to sitting down for long stretches," per Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group.

It's no surprise Westbrook is accustomed to playing significant minutes considering his Hall of Fame-caliber resume includes the 2016-17 MVP, nine All-NBA selections, nine All-Star nods, two scoring titles, three assist titles and a spot on the NBA's 75th anniversary team.

However, his first season with the Lakers has gone anything but planned.

He is shooting just 29.8 percent from three-point range from deep, and his 18.3 points per game would be his lowest mark since his second season in the league in 2009-10. It has been an awkward fit with the ball-dominant LeBron James, and Westbrook has been benched for crunch time in multiple games.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported the Lakers discussed sending Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for John Wall prior to Thursday's trade deadline but Houston wanted more in return.

Westbrook already turned heads with comments about sitting on the bench during Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks when he told reporters he has "earned" the right to be on the floor in important moments. 

"I shouldn't have to hit any benchmark, to be honest," Westbrook said. "I've put a lot of work and I've got a lot of respect in this game. I don't got to hit a benchmark, or I shouldn't have to. I've earned a right to be in closing lineups."

Given those comments and his suggestion sitting on the bench contributed to his back tightness, it is clear the point guard isn't thrilled with the current situation.

The Lakers surely aren't thrilled with being 26-30 either as the team continues to struggle.