After five straight losses, the LA Clippers were looking for an answer to their crowded starting lineup. With so much talent in the rotation, it was going to be hard for any one player to step up to the plate and volunteer to sacrifice for the good of the team.
But that is precisely what Russell Westbrook did earlier this week. With the Clippers' season in flux, he offered to be the one to come off the bench in order for James Harden to build more chemistry with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
So far, his decision has led to LA returning to their winning ways, as they closed out the Rockets at home on Friday night with Harden's four-point play sealing the deal. But as Clippers fans relish the team getting back in the win column, it is important we acknowledge how vital Westbrook's winning mentality is for this group.
Westbrook's winning mentality is just what the Clippers need
As Clippers reporter Farbod Esnaashari pointed out on social media, Westbrook's volunteer benching is an extremely rare occurrence. Players of his caliber are not typically comfortable with accepting a lesser role. Even more incredible is the fact that he requested his demotion, simply because he knew it would help his teammates.
This mentality from a former MVP is near nonexistent, especially one that is still at a point in his career where he can still produce at the level he does. Westbrook, George and Leonard had a very strong connection leading up to the end of last season, and they appeared to be on a good trajectory through the first four games of 2023-24 before the Harden trade.
After taking what ended up being the largest single-season pay cut in NBA history in order to make things work for the Clippers financially, Westbrook has now once again given up individual glory in favor of team success.
This kind of commitment to winning championships is what any team of superstars needs to one day reach the mountaintop in the NBA.