Grady grew up in Indianapolis during the Pacers’ heyd…

Grady grew up in Indianapolis during the Pacers’ heyday, when Miller and Mark Jackson were battling with Jordan’s Bulls and Patrick Ewing’s Knicks for Eastern Conference supremacy. Watching his team from the Midwest get overlooked and discounted in favor of the bigger-market teams instilled in him a defiance — an audacity, as he likes to put it — that could serve him well here in Minnesota. “You have the Lakers and Golden State and these big markets and these teams with players that are household names,” Grady said. “You mention Minnesota competing with them and some people might not take that seriously. But you have to have the audacity that you can go toe-to-toe with anybody out there. Being able to be a part of fanning the flame for what this franchise is building is something that I take very seriously and I’m really excited about.”
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September 25, 2022 | 7:41 pm EDT Update

Russell Westbrook: I don't need to feel wanted by the Lakers

Russell Westbrook was wearing a bucket hat, flip-flops and a smile inside the conference room in his Avenue of the Stars offices. Trade talks stalled, training camp on the cusp and Westbrook hardly had to consider the question: Do you feel wanted by the Los Angeles Lakers? “I don’t need to,” Westbrook told ESPN recently. “I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete.”
Westbrook spoke of getting back to work in the gym sooner in the past offseason than he has ever done in his career, about a summer full of conversations with Lakers coach Darvin Ham, about a “connection” and “trust” with Ham’s vision to utilize him in a way that impacts winning on these Lakers. Maybe that’s as a starter or maybe it’s off the bench. “I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
He sure isn’t here to tell you that his and the Lakers’ debacle of a season caused him to have to fight to keep his confidence. “No, I didn’t have to fight that,” Westbrook said. “I had to fight my response on how it affects the people close to me. To me, that was the important part. Confidence is not something I lack. Yes, there were times last season that I wanted to play better — that I should’ve played better — but my confidence never wavers. Having bad games is part of the NBA, and I understand that. The only thing it affected for me was the impact that it had on the people closest to me — my mom, dad, wife, brother, close friends. We’ve never had to deal with that as a family. That was the most difficult thing — being booed in the arena and having my kids there.”