After the Lakers' loss on opening night to the Golden State Warriors, the questions about Russell Westbrook's shooting performance were ablaze all over social media, and in the postgame press conference.
Westbrook shot 4-13 from the floor and 0-4 from beyond the arc. Overreacting is everyone's NBA opening night tradition, but James was quick to defend Westbrook in his postgame interview as just a bump in the road.
"That's one game. We want to learn from it. We want to get better, but we want we don't want to harp on it too much. We will get better from it, and he will get better from it, and putting him in positions that benefit him, and that benefits our team. I think we will continue to learn that as a season goes on."
James was also quick to acknowledge the significance of this game for Westbrook. Psychologically, this was an enormous game for Westbrook.
"First game jitters to be honest. I don't put too much into it. You know just probably was a lot just going through his mind just being a kid from LA watching the Lakers growing up, and then however many years down the road now you're putting on a Laker uniform and you're stepping into Staples Center. I can only imagine how many friends and family have contacted him over the last 48 hours, wondering if they can come and see his first game as a Laker. Those things, those demands, and those asks will quiet down as the season goes on. So (we're) not worried about Russ at all."
The importance of your team leader understanding the psychological weight of a game cannot be overstated. In a sport where results are all that matter and "scoreboard" is all that is viewed as important, James recognizing that this was no ordinary opening night for Westbrook is likely to give Westbrook a lot of confidence to shake off his first game performance.
The Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at Staples Center at 7 PM PST.