Recently, Alex Abrines detailed another example of why the “bad teammate” narrative of newly acquired Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook needs to be put to an end.
The popular narrative in the media is that Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is a bad teammate and cares more about getting triple-doubles than winning games. Statements like this are brought up season after season, in spite of the fact that there is a strong correlation with Westbrook getting a triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder winning. The Thunder have gone 77-24 in the 101 games over the last three seasons in which Westbrook has had a triple-double.
The other example people often use of why Westbrook is a bad teammate involves the decision of Kevin Durant to leave the Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors in 2016. Durant’s decision had more to do with the fact that the Thunder couldn’t put more around him and Westbrook, and nothing to do with Westbrook being a bad teammate.
The ultimate proof of how the bad teammate narrative couldn’t be further from the truth involves former Oklahoma City Thunder guard Alex Abrines. Abrines battled mental health issues over his time with OKC, ultimately deciding to leave the team. During these battles, Westbrook stayed by Abrines’ side and offered his continued support, as Abrines explained during a recent interview with Basket en Movistar+ provided via Alex Madrid of Eurohoops:
“When I went through all this and did not travel with the team, he kept in touch. He asked me to meet him for dinner. He cared for the person beyond the player. He calmly told me what I should do, noting that he would support me if I decided to leave.”
This account from Abrines is quite the opposite of the “selfish” player Westbrook is often made out to be. It says a lot about the character of The Brodie, as the Thunder really could have used Abrines, who shot 38 percent from distance in two of the last three years and is a career 36.8 percent shooter from deep.
Mental illness is a serious condition that many people battle with, including athletes. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in every five adults suffer from mental illness. What we oftentimes hear is that people with mental illness feel they don’t have anyone to go to in a time of need. This is why it’s even more inspiring that a star player like Westbrook proved to be that layer of support for Abrines, who was a role player for the team.
Kudos to Westbrook for being an amazing teammate! Houston will be lucky to have a player with such character donning the Rockets jersey this season.