After Russell Westbrook was criticized for taking 43 shots during an Oklahoma City Thunder loss Sunday, Kobe Bryant took to Twitter to defend the point guard.
The two stars have had each other’s respects for a while. As Westbrook saw Bryant’s actions, he appreciated the gesture and called it an honor to have Bryant on his side, according to ESPN’s Royce Young:
That’s my guy, that’s my guy, that’s my guy,” Westbrook said. “Kobe’s a good friend of mine and being in L.A., I was able to watch him and see him become a Hall of Famer and one of the best players to play the game. It’s an honor to be able to see somebody like that, to be able to have your back and support you.”
Bryant’s love for Westbrook is nothing new. He has praised Westbrook’s demeanor and competitiveness in the past describing his playing style with a “rage that’s not very common.”
Westbrook has had an impressive year and is in the MVP conversation. He leads the league in triple-doubles this season with 11, eight more than the second most. With a scoring average of 28.0 points per game, Westbrook is likely to win the NBA’s scoring title.
The Thunder enter their final game of the season fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. For most of the year, the Thunder have relied on Westbrook as their other stars, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, missed significant time. Westbrook is set to be a free agent in 2017 with Laker fans wanting him to come to Los Angeles. However, that is in a couple years, and the Lakers have more immediate concerns.