Magic Johnson Praises Russell Westbrook: 'This Is Something I Couldn't Even Do'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2021

Washington Wizards' Russell Westbrook shouts instructions during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, yet the Hall of Famer conceded Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook has surpassed him in some aspects of the game.

Speaking with The Athletic's David Aldridge, Johnson said fans can sometimes fail to truly appreciate something like Westbrook's performance against the Indiana Pacers on May 3, when he finished with 14 points, 24 assists and 21 rebounds:

"People have played 13 years, 15 years, and never get 20 rebounds. Same with assists. I know I got 24 a lot, but for him to get 24, there's guards who’s played who would never get even 20 (assists). The things he's been able to do, hopefully, we will say, 'Give him his love, give him his respect.' This is really big. This is something I couldn't even do. I know how big it is."

Westbrook is on the verge of surpassing Oscar Robertson for the most career triple-doubles, having tied him at 181 in Saturday's 133-132 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers.

To call Westbrook a polarizing player is probably a stretch, but he will always have critics who point to his inefficient shooting—a 30.5 percent career clip on three-pointers—and contend he pads his stats.

However, sometimes you just have to sit back and marvel at the fact a 6'3" point guard is on the verge of averaging a triple-double for the fourth time in five seasons. Regardless of where the 2016-17 MVP sits in the all-time hierarchy, it's difficult to envision when another player like this will come along in the league.