While Laker fans were frustrated for much of the season that rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell was coming off the bench, there was a reason for it backed by management — they thought Russell needed a lesson in maturity and that his ego was too big. With that came concerns about his professionalism (focus in practice, showing up to meetings on time, etc.). Coach Byron Scott questioned Russell’s maturity on multiple occasions.
This latest report falls right in line with that.
Sources told ESPN.com that some teammates’ trust in Russell is eroding after a video surfaced in the past week that shows Russell recording a private conversation between himself and teammate Nick Young. Young does not appear to realize he is being taped.
The video, which is believed to have come to light last week via the Twitter account of a celebrity gossip site, shows Russell filming Young while asking questions about Young being with other women. Young got engaged to Australian rapper Iggy Azalea last summer….
“Right now,” one source said, “they’re handling it by isolating him.”
“It’s bad,” one team source told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “It’s about as bad as it can get. There were trust issues already. Now there’s no trust.”
This would help explain the listless Lakers’ 48-point loss to Utah the other night. Young was not with the team on that trip due to a stomach ailment.
There is very much an NBA code that what gets said between teammates in the locker room (and on the team plane, etc.) stays between teammates. An “us against the world” mentality exists. While cheating by NBA players on their significant others is rampant, that in particular is an off-topic subject to let get outside the locker room. While it’s not known how the video got out, Russell’s actions would be seen by many players around the league as a betrayal of his teammates. None of them would sit next to him during a recent breakfast meeting, according to the report.
One Laker official told ESPN this was a “prank gone wrong” and the rookie was learning a hard lesson about maturity in the NBA.
Russell and the Lakers youth have learned a lot of hard lessons about life in the NBA and what it takes to win there this season. We’ll see if they grow from that or not.