‘Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself:’ LeBron James Encourages Russell Westbrook After Rough Debut
The NBA is back.
On Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 121-114. Despite the loss, there were some great performances put on display by LA: Anthony Davis dropped 33 points and snagged 11 rebounds, while LeBron James finished with 34 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook— the third superstar in LA’s newest “Big 3″—had only eight points, five rebounds and four assists in his Lakers debut.
After the game, James told the media that reassured his new teammate to “not be so hard on himself.”
“I told Russ to go home and watch a comedy,” James said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “Do something that can put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.'”
“I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself,” he added.
“That was the one thing that I hoped to get through to him, don’t be so hard on himself. Go home and you’re going to see three babies that he has that might be asleep, but they’ll put a smile on his face. He has a beautiful wife and family. So at the end of the day, you go home and you’re really like, ‘OK, that was not that bad. It’s really not that bad.'”
James later noted the difficulty that comes with going into a new system and trying to bring what you have to the table while also trying to “fit in” and work with those around you.
“It’s challenging to go into a new system and trying to fit in but also bring what you bring to the table at a high level to fit out as well. And if there’s three guys on this team that shouldn’t be worried about not fitting in, it’s probably myself, AD and Russ. Obviously we’re going to do whatever it takes to help the team win, but for us three, we need to fit out as well.”
In his postgame presser, Davis recalled James giving him the same type of encouragement after the Lakers lost to Clippers in their season-opener in 2019.
“My first time, I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, ‘You’re fine, this is Game 1,'” AD said (h/t ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).
“He’s laughing. He’s joking on the phone. And I’m like, ‘Why am I upset then?’ And I kind of just went with the flow. And it’s the same thing with Russ. And I told him the same thing. ‘I’m the same way you were.’ We said some things to him, and he smiled and things like that, so I expect him to be better in the game Friday.”
“You come here, you see everybody courtside, the lights are brighter than most arenas,” he also noted. “You look at the rafters. There’s a lot that goes on.”
Westbrook will need time to grow amongst his new teammates but there’s no doubt that the triple-double machine will once again get back to the way he was prior to coming to LA.