A guide to Russell Westbrook's rivalry with Damian Lillard and other NBA stars

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Mike DePrisco
·5 min read
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A guide to Westbrook's rivalry with Lillard and other NBA stars originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As the Wizards get set to take on Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers Tuesday night, there's a decent chance Russell Westbrook had this one circled on his calendar.

Westbrook and Lillard have developed one of the NBA's most heated player rivalries. Both incredible competitors on the floor and two of the game's best point guards over the last six years, these two never disappoint when they share the same floor. 

While the rivalry began during the 2019 regular season, when Westbrook told Lillard he'd been, "busting that [expletive] for years," referencing the Thunder's consistent dominance over the Blazers since Lillard entered the league in 2012. 

Then in a first-round playoff series between the two, Westbrook and Lillard traded shots at each other, with Westbrook doing his signature "rock the baby" after hitting a tough shot over Lillard for an and-one, and then Lillard getting the best of him on back-to-back plays. 

Lillard got the last laugh, however, and hit an iconic game-winning shot in Game 5 to win the series for the Blazers. He even waved goodbye to the Thunder before getting mobbed by teammates and some fans. It also turned out to be Westbrook's last game in an OKC uniform, as he'd be traded to Houston later that summer. 

Even after he landed with the Rockets, whenever the two were on the floor together, they could be seen talking trash to one another. 

Lillard and Westbrook have both confirmed that there's no bad blood in this strictly on-court feud. They're just two players who don't back down to anyone butting heads while trying to lead their teams to a win. Ahead of their next matchup, this time with Westbrook in Washington, there's an off-the-court storyline to keep an eye on. 

One reporter publicly questioned whether the Wizards (Westbrook and Bradley Beal) had the best backcourt in the NBA entering this season. Lillard, who plays alongside CJ McCollum, took exception to that notion in a press conference.

Westbrook's on-court rivalries don't stop there, though. He's had a number of one-game instances, as Wizards have seen already in in-game arguments with John Wall and Rajon Rondo. Here's some more on-court rivalries to watch:

Kevin Durant

Westbrook and Durant didn't have a clean breakup. Just moments after Durant left OKC to join the 73-win Warriors and form the most dominant team of their era, Westbrook posted a picture of cupcakes, essentially comparing Durant to the popular dessert. 

Then when they met on the court? Must-see television.

As time went on, Westbrook and Durant dialed down their altercations on the floor, and at this point they've each changed teams twice since playing together on the Thunder and were seen joking around earlier in the season. Still, this one was a key storyline across the league during the 2016-17 season. 

Patrick Beverly

Beverly is a lightning rod among many NBA players because of the way he plays the game, and Westbrook is no exception. Westbrook actually suffered a serious knee injury in the 2013 playoffs when Beverly tried to get a steal while Westbrook was approaching the sideline to call a timeout.

Over time, the two haven't exactly made up. 

Joel Embiid

Embiid and Westbrook are two players who love to talk to their opponents, so after Embiid got his first taste of playing time in 2016-17, it was only a matter of time before these two had words for each other.

There's usually a lot of waving that goes on between Embiid and Westbrook, too.

Westbrook isn't trying to make friends out on the court, he's there to beat you and let you know about it when he does. 

Tune in at 7 p.m. Tuesday night for full coverage of Westbrook vs. Lillard on NBC Sports Washington.