Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers traded point guard Russell Westbrook, a former MVP who is now on his fifth team in as many years, to the Utah Jazz.
An ESPN report cited the 2017 NBA MVP as a “vampire” that “suck[ed] the blood out of the Lakers locker room.”
Westbrook’s wife, Nina, was not thrilled with the sentiment.
“This is just sick ESPN… Russell is no vampire,” she commented on an Instagram post. “This is also slander because anyone who knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“I have school aged children who have to listen to their peers repeat the nasty things that you guys say on television about their father,” she continued. “I guess I will prepare myself to explain to my 5 year old that his dad is not actually a vampire, and that major news outlets only say things like that to get attention.”
Both current and former NBA All-Stars also came to Westbrook’s defense.
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Former NBA player Carmelo Anthony commented “whose the source,” while the Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell also put the report to task, via the New York Post.
In the deal, the Lakers acquired D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who received Mike Conley and three second-round picks.
Westbrook will likely be bought out by Utah and search for another team to join; he reportedly is interested in the Los Angeles Clippers.
The trade came just a day after Westbrook reportedly had a heated exchange with coaches in the locker room at halftime of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, just minutes before LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Westbrook has been traded four times since the 2019 season, and the Lakers are currently on pace to miss out on a playoff spot for the second year in a row.
At the start of the season, Westbrook was making more than $47 million this season as he is in his final year of a five-year, $205 million contract.