Basketball Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke out Tuesday against those who have harassed Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and his family.
Johnson tweeted the following after Westbrook and his wife, Nina Westbrook, detailed what they have been subjected to:
Earvin Magic Johnson @MagicJohnson
Laker Nation, it's our responsibility to come together and support Russell Westbrook and his family. Threats and attacks on the Westbrook family are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. There's no place in sports for this type of behavior, period. <a href="https://twitter.com/russwest44?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@russwest44</a>
On Monday, Nina tweeted that she and her family have received "death wishes" amid Russell's on-court struggles this season:
Westbrook is in his first season with the Lakers after L.A. acquired him from the Washington Wizards during the offseason.
While Westbrook has put together a Hall of Fame resume with nine All-Star nods, two scoring titles and an MVP award, it has been a trying season for him and the struggling Lakers.
Following the Lakers' 117-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Westbrook commented on his wife's tweet:
"I 100 percent stand behind my wife and how she's feeling. 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.
"I've kind of let it go in the past because it never really bothered me. But it really kind of hit me the other day. Me and my wife were at teacher-parent conferences for my son. And the teacher told me, 'Noah, he's so proud of his last name. He writes it everywhere. He writes it on everything. He tells everybody and walks around and says, 'I'm Westbrook.' ... And I kind of sat there in shock, and it hit me, like, 'Damn. I can no longer allow people [to besmirch my name].'"
Westbrook also took issue with his detractors' calling him "Westbrick" to poke fun at his shooting struggles: "'Westbrick,' for example, to me, is now shaming. It's shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It's a name that means, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kind of paved the way for me."
In a subsequent tweet Tuesday, Johnson expressed his belief that Westbrook will play a sizable role in the Lakers' success moving forward:
Earvin Magic Johnson @MagicJohnson
Russell plays an important role on the <a href="https://twitter.com/Lakers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Lakers</a> team and will be a key component to the success of the rest of the season and the NBA Playoffs. Let's do better, rally around the Westbrook family, and support them. <a href="https://twitter.com/russwest44?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@russwest44</a>
After losing in the first round of the playoffs last season on the heels of winning a championship the previous year, the Lakers made a bold move by trading for Westbrook.
The hope was that Westbrook would be the third star Los Angeles needed to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but it hasn't worked out that way.
In 63 games, Westbrook is averaging 18.1 points per game, his lowest scoring output since his second NBA season in 2009-10 with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook is also averaging 7.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 three-pointer made per game, while shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 28.2 percent from beyond the arc.
In addition to not meshing well with James and Davis, Westbrook hasn't been able to lead the team to consistent performances when the two stars have sat out with injuries.
At 28-36, the Lakers are a disappointing ninth in the Western Conference. Despite their poor play, they would be part of the postseason play-in tournament if the season ended today.
While Westbrook could have a reduced role for the remainder of the season, he is likely still the Lakers' best option at point guard, so they will have to lean on him in big-game situations.
That may be the case next season as well since Westbrook has a $47 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign.
Westbrook's tenure in Los Angeles hasn't worked out as hoped, but all parties involved have no choice but to try to make it work this season and perhaps beyond.