Smith criticized Westbrook for his lack of championship success following the Wizards point guard’s big game earlier in the week. Westbrook had 35 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists in a win on Monday night.
“I stand by everything that I said yesterday,” Smith said on First Take on Wednesday.
“Go back and look specifically about what I’ve said about Russell Westbrook, not just yesterday, but his track record,” Smith continued. “This is a sensational athlete, the most athletic point guard in the history of basketball, destined for the Hall of Fame. I’ve said all of those things. But you’ve come up short.”
Westbrook, meanwhile – along with his wife – was not happy with Smith’s criticism. He used it as an opportunity to criticize sports media as a whole.
“I sit back, I don’t say much. I don’t like to go back and forth about people,” Westbrook said. “But one thing I won’t allow to happen anymore is let people create narratives and constantly talking s**t for no reason about me because I lay it on the line every night. And I use my platform to be able to help people all across the world.
“Nobody can take that away from me. I’ve been blessed to be able to have a platform to do it. A championship won’t change my life. I’m happy. I was a champion once I made it to the NBA. I grew up in the streets. I’m a champion. I don’t have to be an NBA champion.”
Legendary NBA star Shaquille O’Neal weighed in on the controversy this week.
“A lot of people say certain things, and that’s just an unfortunate part of this business,” O’Neal said. “When you’re a great player and you’re putting up great numbers, people are always gonna say, ‘Wait until you have a championship.’ If you don’t get a championship, that’s not a knock.”
O’Neal said that this is unfortunately something every star player has to go through.
“Everybody had to go through it,” O’Neal said. “It’s not like we’re just picking on [Westbrook], all the greats, and we look at him as a great player, everybody had to go through this.”