LeBron James’ advice after Russell Westbrook’s rough Lakers debut

LeBron James’ advice to Russell Westbrook: Go home and watch a comedy.

That, James said, is how Westbrook can forget about his eight-point, 4-for-13, four-turnover performance in the Lakers’ 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

“Do something that can put a smile on his face,” James said, per ESPN.com. “He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.’ “

Westbrook was brief with reporters, ending his postgame media session after less than three minutes, according to ESPN. He’s found himself under the microscope after joining the Lakers this summer in a blockbuster five-team deal, immediately raising questions about whether his ball-dominant style can mesh with James and Anthony Davis.

After he had a team-worst minus-23 in 35 minutes on Tuesday, those questions will continue to abound.

Russell Westbrook struggled in his Lakers debut on Oct. 19, 2021.
Russell Westbrook struggled in his Lakers debut on Oct. 19, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

“Him more than anybody, it’s going to be an adjustment period,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s coming into our culture, our system. He’s the new guy and he’s got to find his way. It’s difficult, when you’re used to being the guy who has the ball most nights, to be able to play off of others like Bron and AD. So it’s just a little bit different for him. He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be an adjustment period.”

James and Davis both lost their Lakers debuts, too, in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Davis said that James’ advice to him was similar to what he gave Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook struggled in his Lakers debut on Oct. 19, 2021.
Russell Westbrook struggled in his Lakers debut on Oct. 19, 2021.
NBAE via Getty Images

“I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, ‘You’re fine, this is Game 1,’” Davis said. “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. It’s the same thing with Russ.”

Added James: “There probably was just a lot going through his mind, being a kid from L.A. and watching the Lakers growing up, and then however many years down the road and now you’re putting on a Laker uniform and you’re stepping into Staples Center.”

Learning how to share ball-handling duties will be key for Westbrook and James, both of whom have consistently had usage percentages above 30 throughout their careers. 

“If there’s three guys on this team that shouldn’t be worried about not fitting in, it’s probably myself, AD and Russ,” James said. “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.”

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