Russell Westbrook had a bit of a slow start in his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, but LeBron James is vehemently defending his teammate. During a postgame interview, James said Westbrook was probably feeling first-game jitters as he finally achieved his dream of playing in his hometown.
"I can only imagine how many friends and family have contacted him over the last 48 hours, wondering if they can come and see his first game as a Laker. Those things, those demands and those asks will quiet down as the season goes on. So (we're) not worried about Russ at all," the Lakers superstar said.
Westbrook shot 4-13 from the floor as the Lakers lost against the Golden State Warriors on opening night, according to Sports Illustrated. James, however, doesn't want to see his new teammate being too critical of himself.
"He's so hard on himself," the Lakers forward said. "I told him 'Don't be so hard on yourself. It's one game.'"
LeBron had some words of encouragement for Russ ????️ pic.twitter.com/m6OIWCDZx4
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 20, 2021
The 36-year-old star also advised the point guard to "go home and watch a comedy" or do something that will make him smile.
LeBron said he told Russell Westbrook to go home and watch a comedy, or be with his children — to do something that will make him smile and keep the loss in perspective: “I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself.”
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) October 20, 2021
James gave similar advice to Anthony Davis in 2019 when the center made his debut with the Lakers.
"My first time, I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, 'You're fine, this is Game 1,'" Davis said on Tuesday, according to ESPN. "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."
Westbrook gave a brief answer in the postgame interview.
"I just got to figure it out," he said. "That's all."
The 13-year NBA veteran has played with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards.