Feud? What feud?
Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook may have had one of the NBA’s longest-running and nastiest beefs (dating back to the 2013 playoffs), but they are teammates now on the Los Angeles Lakers, and to hear Beverley talk on Tuesday it’s all good now. Nothing to see here, move along. Here is what he said, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“Super excited,” Beverley interrupted when asked about his relationship and fit with Westbrook. “… I was asked this question two, three years ago, [about] someone I always wanted to play with and [Westbrook] was the first name. I have [known] Bron since I was a baby, a rookie in this league, so obviously I want to play with him.
“But a player with that competitive spirit, that fire, that will, that dog, that nastiness, that grit, to have a running mate like that, I have never had that. So I am super excited to see where it goes. Obviously like any relationship or any marriage, things, we are going to have tough conversations. That is what comes with winning, but I am excited about those conversations, I am excited about the practices. I am just excited to be able to compete with someone like that.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said he might even play Westbrook and Beverley together in the backcourt (it wouldn’t be surprising if that combo starts opening night against the Warriors).
“If they play defense,” Ham said. “We’ve got a while. That’s still a ways off, but definitely… But, I’m not scared of that,” Ham added. “It’s definitely a bullet in the chamber. We’re looking forward to it, man, those guys in the backcourt together, man.”
Welcome to the honeymoon part of the preseason, before any practices, any games, and before any tests or adversity. Right now it’s all puppies and rainbows. From Ham at his introductory press conference to team owner/governor Jeanie Buss through Beverley, everyone is on the same page and saying the right things.
On paper, Beverley and Westbrook can succeed as a backcourt pairing, especially working more off the ball because LeBron James should be initiating the offense, and Ham has said he wants to run the offense more through Davis. It works as long as Westbrook is willing to accept that role. Westbrook and Beverley can push the tempo.
But what happens when adversity strikes? What happens the first close game late and Westbrook is asked to be a decoy? What happens when the team losses a few games in a row (which could happen early, the Lakers have a tough first couple of weeks of the season)? How does everyone respond when Westbrook (or Beverley) is on the bench in crunch time?
It’s easy to put aside beefs and have everyone say they are excited to play together before training camp opens. In the next week or so, expect reports from the LeBron-run minicamp about how well everyone is getting along and how great things look. This is the time of the season for optimism. For hope. For everyone to get along.
If the Lakers can stay healthy and carry that into the season they could be a playoff team in the West, but when adversity strikes will be the first test of all the current excitement and love.
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