Russell Westbrook Westbrook was an 11-year-old Lakers fan when STAPLES Center opened. He grew up about 13 miles south in Hawthorne and would go with his dad to the championship parades after the Lakers won the NBA Championship in 2000, 2001 and 2002. These celebrations attracted over half a million fans each year and on August 10th, 2021, Westbrook, one of those fans, returned with the dream of being part of another Lakers championship parade.
“It’s surreal,” Westbrook said. “I think it still hasn’t hit me yet, being from L.A., growing up not too far from here and being able to watch the parades and try to go to them, miss school to try to go to them. Being a Laker fan and being from L.A., but now everything coming full circle for me. It’s a blessing. There’s a lot of things I can’t put into actual words just because some of these dreams don’t come true for people like myself.”
While Westbrook dreamed of one day playing for his favorite team, it was seemingly impossible as he was entering his 14th season in the NBA until two weeks ago the Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and a 2021 first-round draft pick to the Wizards for him.
“Obviously being from L.A., you always wish that you can play for your home team and be able to do that,” Westbrook said. “That’s definitely something that always kind of circled around in my mind. Maybe one day. But I would always come back and be like, ‘That probably won’t happen.’ But now we’re here and I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
Westbrook looked up to Kobe Bryant when growing. The two became good friends and often talked about the possibility of playing together in the Lakers. Westbrook thought about Kobe when the trade was finally completed and he’ll definitely think about him before every game he plays for the Lakers.
“It hasn’t left my head,” Westbrook said. “Things that we’ve talked about, me and him, just the potential of me being able to be a Laker, understanding what that entails. It’s just crazy to think about, and that will be with me every time I put that Laker jersey on.”