Charles Barkley claims that even Michael Jordan didn’t play as hard as Russell Westbrook does and that the latter receives too much criticism.
Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly the most athletic point guard to have ever stepped foot on NBA hardwood. Sure, you have the likes of 2011 Derrick Rose and Baron Davis but in terms of longevity mixed in with MVP caliber play for quite nearly a decade, ‘Brodie’ has all others beat out in this particular category.
Despite not having been to an NBA Finals in 9 years, Russell Westbrook approaches every single game, whether it be opening night, one in April, or a Game 7, like it were his last. His motor on the offensive end of the floor (and for a few years in the 2010s on the defensive end as well) is unmatched and only a few that are currently in the NBA today, can come close to rivaling him.
Guys like Giannis and Ja Morant seem to be of the Westbrook mold in terms of relentlessly attacking the interior until something gives. Charles Barkley recognizes this and gave him the ultimate compliment on several occasions.
Charles Barkley compares Russell Westbrook and Michael Jordan gives the edge to the former in a certain department.
Charles Barkley is someone who wasn’t exactly known to put in maximum effort at all times when on the court during his heyday. Perhaps that’s why he feels a certain way towards Russell Westbrook and what he brings to the table for any team that he’s on.
“I feel bad for Russell Westbrook. This kid gives 150% every game and all he does is get criticized. I’ve been in this thing for 30 years and I’ve never seen a player give maximum effort every single night like. Even Michael Jordan didn’t play as hard as Westbrook.”
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This is high praise coming from Barkley as considering how close he was to the Bulls legend, he knows exactly how hard he worked. The flipside to what Chuck is saying is that sometimes, this relentless motor of Russ’s can prove to be detrimental to himself or his team.
Russell Westbrook’s need to have the ball in his hand and go barreling into the paint is admirable but also, doesn’t allow for a better shot to be found. However, at the end of the day, having someone who’s mentally wired the way the 2017 MVP is, is also a strongpoint on your team.