Dwight Howard speaks on how Lakers fans treated him while discussing L.A.’s hate for Russell Westbrook

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read

Former Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard gave his thoughts on how Lakers fans have treated Russell Westbrook and how the guard should handle it going forward.

Howard, who is a polarizing figure in Lakers history, mainly for the struggles during his first stint with the team, explained how the fan base put him through the “ringer,” but he realized it was because of their passion for the team.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year believes Westbrook allowed the outside noise to take over for him, which has contributed to his struggles on the floor.

“If you allow that mindset to take over you – you will not have a good season,” Howard said. “Because you thinking about what everybody else is thinking. And I felt like that’s what he was doing.

“He’s thinking about if he missed this shot or he’s hearing the crowd booing. They’re booing him. They’re booing his family. And all of this stuff is like – you gotta tune that out. I have went through the ringer with the L.A. fans. From leaving, coming back, leaving and coming back and them booing me, throwing basketballs at me, jerseys, all that stuff.

“But I understand, they just really passionate about they team. They love they team. Some people don’t know how to express anger even when it’s a fan.”

Howard reiterated that Westbrook has to try to block all of the noise out from the fans and hone in on his game to prove them wrong for the bad things they’ve said about him.

Last season, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc. It was a rough season for the former MVP, especially since the Lakers missed the playoffs.

The criticism and hate that Westbrook received couldn’t have made last season any easier, and there have been rumors since the offseason that the Lakers may trade him to shake up the roster.

How Russell Westbrook is beginning to turn things around

Westbrook’s slow start to the 2022-23 season didn’t help quiet the critics, but he has turned things around as of late.

After he accepted his role coming off the bench for Los Angeles, Westbrook thrived in the team’s last game against the Denver Nuggets. He scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out eight assists to help lead Los Angeles to its first win of the 2022-23 season.

The more he plays like that, the more the nine-time All-Star will be able to endear himself to the passionate Lakers fans.

Howard, who spent last season with Los Angeles, is currently a free agent after the team opted to sign Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant in free agency at the center position. Howard won an NBA title with the Lakers in the 2019-20 season, and it’s possible he is able to latch on with a team at some point this season if it needs depth at the center position.

Hopefully for the Lakers and Westbrook, Howard’s advice will help the former MVP focus on his play on the floor and block out the critics during the 2022-23 campaign.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.