After being eliminated from the playoffs at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook hit back at criticism over his play in the five-game series, vowing to come back a better player next season.
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Westbrook averaged 22.8 points, 10.6 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 36.0% from the field and 32.4% from the 3-point line as OKC exited the playoffs in the first round for the third-straight season.
"There used to be conversations if I was a ball hog, but now I lead the league in assists for the past three years or whatever it is, that's getting squashed out," he told reporters during his exit interview, via ESPN's Royce Young. "So now the conversation is about shooting. Next year I'm going to become a better shooter. After that it'll be probably, f-, my left foot is bigger than my right one. Who knows.
"So that's why, back to your point, I don't really care what people say, what they think about me, because it doesn't really matter. I know what I'm able to do and know what I'm able to do at a high level every night, and nobody else can do what I can do on a night-in, night-out basis, and I truly believe that. If they could, I'm pretty sure they would. But I know for a fact that nobody can."
While Westbrook struggled in the playoffs, he was a force in the regular season, averaging a triple-double for the third-straight season, with 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game, a feat which is now perhaps taken for granted.
"When you do so much at a high level, a lot of haters come," he said. "That's how life is, man. That's life, man. When you do so much, people going to try to pull and take away and try to take that away from you.
"But nobody can take away from me. I've been blessed, and I stay prayerful, stay thankful to be able to do what I'm able to do, and nobody can ever take that away from me, regardless of what it is, how many stories are written, how many stats are put up, how many numbers are put up."