One of the most difficult parts of making the transition from being a player to being a part of the media is that it requires you to, at times, critique people who are your friends — or risk bing seen as a shill for certain players.
Some players understand that’s part of the job, but some will still be hurt by criticisms of their play or their fit in a certain situation. Kendrick Perkins learned this the hard way this year, as the former teammate of Russell Westbrook went on ESPN’s First Take earlier this year and said that the Lakers should trade the star guard as it became apparent things were not working out. As Perkins told the Marchand and Ourand Podcast this week, that led to Nina Westbrook texting Perkins’ wife about how hurtful a suggestion that was, as Westbrook was finally reunited with his family in Los Angeles, which Perkins responded to with a lengthy response saying it was nothing personal but has yet to hear anything back from the Westbrooks.
CLIP: Russell Westbrook is currently not talking to Kendrick Perkins after Westbrook and his wife were upset about Perkins saying the Lakers should trade Westbrook.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) May 5, 2022
It’s a tough spot to be in for Perkins, but as he notes, he’s just doing his job and answering the question asked of him on the show as honestly as he can. As the season wore on, it became clear that the criticism of Westbrook was wearing on Russ and his family, with him calling out fans for chanting “Westbrick” at games and Nina ripping Skip Bayless for commentary on Westbrook’s struggles. This particular situation has lived behind the scenes until now and Perkins notes he’s still trying to mend that fence, but it’s indicative of how tough it can be to offer your unfiltered opinion about people who you’re familiar with and, even if it’s just part of the job, might take it personally.