LeBron James and Russell Westbrook ‘made no public acknowledgement of one another’ at summer league game

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

The absence of any interaction between LeBron James and Russell Westbrook during a Los Angeles Lakers summer league game on Friday night has sparked controversy.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register noted that James was seen chatting with Lakers teammates and other basketball figures, but that James and Westbrook never even acknowledged each other.

“For roughly an hour-and-a-half as LeBron James sat baseline for the Lakers’ opener at the Summer League in Las Vegas, he was treated to a parade of the elite guests in attendance,” Goon wrote.

“He was quickly greeted by Jerry Stackhouse and James Jones, his former Miami teammates. That was soon followed by his agent Rich Paul, new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham and general manager Rob Pelinka. Baron Davis and Gary Payton II stopped by, as did James’ Laker teammates: Talen Horton-Tucker, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Wenyen Gabriel and Thomas Bryant. Once, when Scotty Pippen Jr. spilled out on the baseline after an and-one layup, James leaped out of his seat to help hoist him up.

“There was one notable exception among the visitors: Russell Westbrook, who sat in the opposite corner of Thomas & Mack Center next to the summer league players, stayed on the far side of James. The two superstar teammates – who as of now are scheduled to play together again come October – made no public acknowledgment of one another before Westbrook left the exhibition at halftime.”

The likely source of the icy situation between the two Lakers presumably stems from the Lakers’ pursuit of Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. James has apparently been urging the Lakers to acquire his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, news that undoubtedly got under Westbrook’s skin.

Efforts to acquire Irving from the Nets have thus far come up empty for the Lakers. Among those efforts are the Lakers reportedly trying to include Westbrook in a trade package.

The Nets have not shown any real interest in acquiring Westbrook, much like other teams that were offered the chance to deal for him.

When the Lakers acquired him last season, Westbrook was seen as a major addition to the Lakers. Instead, chemistry issues and key injuries turned the season into a disaster which ended with the team not even reaching the playoffs.

James was one of those players who was forced to the sidelines by injury. Given the problems the team had even before the injury problems took hold, it appears that he’s ready to move on from Westbrook.

The problem right now is that getting rid of Westbrook remains a huge challenge for the Lakers. That could mean that the two veterans could be on the court together at the start of the upcoming season, making for some potentially uncomfortable moments.

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Brad is a freelance writer for LakersDaily.com, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.