Russell Westbrook has made it very clear he is not friends with his opponents. When he gets on the basketball court, he sees the other side as enemies, no matter how cordial they may be outside of the game.
So, perhaps it's no surprise that when Damian Lillard was asked for his No. 1 rival in the NBA, he brought up the Wizards' new point guard.
“If I had to say I had an arch nemesis, it would probably be Russ [Westbrook], because when me and Russ play, we going after each other,” Lillard said in an Instagram Live with Fat Joe. “It’s been that way every time we’ve played since I’ve been in the NBA. Eight straight years of just me and him going at each other."
Lillard added they respect each other just fine off the court, it's just that when they get between the lines, it's war. Over the years, they have sure had their battles.
While facing off for years in the Western Conference, Lillard and Westbrook have played each other 27 times in the regular season. Lillard has a narrow edge with a 14-13 record.
In the playoffs, Lillard has a more distinct advantage, as in their lone series as opponents the Blazers beat the Thunder 4-1. That 2019 matchup famously ended with Lillard's buzzer-beating, series-ending three over Paul George and one of the great NBA memes in recent memory.
But since it's Westbrook, the moments haven't been only limited to basketball plays. As Lindsey Wisniewski of NBC Northwest colorfully detailed, they had a back-and-forth in 2019 that included Westbrook doing his trademark 'rock the baby' taunt.
Westbrook and Lillard will face off next in Portland on Feb. 20 when the Wizards go west to play the Blazers. Now, Wizards fans will get an up-close look at one of the NBA's best individual rivalries.