Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook has faced quite a bit of criticism throughout his NBA career -- despite the eye-opening stats he puts up every season. A lot of that criticism comes from the fact that the star hasn't won an NBA title. Earlier this week, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith became the latest to call out Westbrook's lack of a championship following a triple-double performance on Monday.
Following Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets, Westbrook took some time to respond to that criticism and explained that the lack of a championship doesn't really affect him. He noted that, in his eyes, his legacy is about much more than what he does in the NBA.
Here is Westbrook's entire statement, via Fred Katz of The Athletic:
"A championship don't change my life. I'm happy. I was a champion once I made it to the NBA. I grew up in the streets. I'm a champion. I don't have to be an NBA champion. I know many people that got NBA championships that's miserable, haven't done nothing for their community, haven't done nothing for the people in our world. And for me, man, my legacy, like I mentioned before, is not based on what I do on this court. I'm not gonna play basketball my whole life. My legacy is what I do off the floor, how many people I'm able to impact and inspire along my journey, man. That's how I keep my head down and keep pushing because it's very important that you don't let the negativity seep in, because it's been like that my whole career, honestly. There's no other player that kinda takes the heat that I take constantly."
It's certainly a valid point that Westbrook's career hasn't produced a championship despite putting up insane numbers, but Westbrook clearly doesn't view it that way and is content with his career thus far. As he explained, he is more concerned about his legacy outside of the NBA -- and he can prove it.
Back in 2012, Westbrook created his Why Not? Foundation. According to the foundation's website, their goal is to "inspire the lives of young people, teach them to always ask themselves, 'why not?' and help them to build the resilience to never give up."
In Monday's win over the Indiana Pacers, Westbrook recorded the first triple-double in NBA history with at least 35 points and 20 assists. The star guard finished with 35 points, 21 assists, and 14 rebounds on the night. Westbrook has been a triple-double machine throughout his NBA career. The former first round pick currently ranks second (163) on the all-time triple-doubles list behind only Oscar Robertson (181).
Westbrook has had chances to win an NBA title throughout his career. When he was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the explosive guard played alongside Kevin Durant and James Harden, but they fell short of winning it all.
In addition, Westbrook was also paired with Paul George in Oklahoma City, but the dynamic duo never made it out of the first round during those two seasons. Last season, the Houston Rockets acquired Westbrook to pair alongside James Harden, but the Rockets only won one playoff series in their lone season together.