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Few players alternate between being a subject of admiration and a butt of a joke as much as Russell Westbrook, and Wednesday saw an actual NBA team get in on the act.
During the Los Angeles Lakers' 125-116 loss to Sacramento, the Kings' stadium operations crew decided to respond to all of Westbrook's field-goal misses by playing "Cold as Ice" immediately after the ball clanked away from the rim.
The Kings got plenty of use out of the bit, as Westbrook finished 2-of-14 for eight points, plus 12 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one turnover. That performance continued a cold stretch for Westbrook, who has shot 25.4 percent from the field in his past four games.
Westbrook got a chance to respond to the trolling after the game:
Russ responded to the Kings playing "Cold as Ice" after all of his missed shots last night 👀 pic.twitter.com/5N0Vtw2Dja
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 13, 2022
"That's funny. I hope they played that the last 14 years, too. That's cute," Westbrook said.
That "14 years" remark refers to the length of Westbrook's career, though pointing to his track record is a rather odd move in this case, given that he's, well, Russell Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook and the Lakers are struggling
Yes, Westbrook is the NBA's triple-double king, has made the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons and has few detractors when it comes to his character, but stretches like the past week aren't exactly out of place for him. In fact, no player in NBA history has a worse 3-point percentage than his 30.5 percent (min. 2,500 attempts).
Westbrook's utility as an outside shooter is well known at this point — it's been known for years — and his limitations and opportunity cost are increasingly becoming a storyline for the Lakers this season. His arrival was hailed by some as creation of the NBA's latest superteam, but that team just fell to .500 for the 12th time this season.
Trade speculation is now running rampant around the Lakers, though Westbrook's $44.2 million salary and everything written above makes him a hard sell for other teams. If the Lakers are going to succeed, they're probably going to need Westbrook to become something he's not. It's not Westbrook's fault he's in that kind of situation, but Wednesday showed that won't stop the mockery.