Westbrook is one of the most controversial players in the league and probably in NBA history.
Some people love him, others hate him…and Lakers fans sometimes love and hate him during the same game.
Westbrook evokes reactions and he knows it.
This season, those reactions are even stronger than ever because Westbrook has been having his most talked-about year yet.
Playing for LA, Westbrook has been wildly inconsistent.
At times, he’s been effective and securing triple-doubles with ease.
Then he has been way off the mark and struggled to have an impact, leading to him being benched in the final moments of the game against the Indiana Pacers.
Frank Vogel explains why he decided to bench Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter vs. the Pacers. pic.twitter.com/BsYWDcPamP
— theScore (@theScore) January 20, 2022
All of this has led many people to ask: what will be Westbrook’s legacy when his NBA career is all over?
How are people going to look back on him and what he’s done?
Will he be a hero, a villain, or some mix of both?
The best way to describe Westbrook in one word is “intense.”
When the history books write about him, they will say that he almost always had intensity.
Sure, there have been far too many times when he’s looked lazy on the floor, especially this year, but there are few players with as much commitment as Westbrook and that will be his legacy.
This intensity has resulted in some explosive plays, like the other night when he launched himself over Rudy Gobert.
WESTBROOK DETONATES ON GOBERT pic.twitter.com/SWGa3aihX1
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 18, 2022
That’s not to say that commitment and intensity are always good things.
His insistence on intensity leads to far too many turnovers, way too much hero ball, and some truly god-awful three-point attempts.
But the reason Westbrook makes these bone-headed decisions is because he really plays with 100 percent belief in himself and carries a strong desire to win.
He’s intense about everything, from passes to shot selection to arguing with opponents.
Intensity is a double-edged sword and Westbrook is a prime example of that.
Many of his highlights – and lowlights – are because of his intensity.
And that’s the one thing he needs to reel in if he hopes to add “NBA champion” to his legacy.
The biggest critics of Westbrook will say that he’s impossible to rein in and only listens to himself.
Westbrook doesn’t need a coaching staff because he is his own coaching staff, these people say.
They’re not entirely wrong and that sort of criticism is valid because there have been so many times when it looks like Westbrook only listens to himself and seems to always know what’s best for him and his team.
This sometimes blind devotion to his instincts will also be part of his legacy and it’s something he would be wise to work on.
He isn’t playing one-on-one basketball, he isn’t an island only relying on himself.
It’s true that he’s been on other teams when he has been the only reliable person but that’s not the case anymore.
He’s now playing with the best squad he’s ever been with and he needs to recognize that and allow his coach and teammates to shape him, refine him, and make him a better player.
Westbrook’s legacy is still being written and there is only one person in control of the pen: him.