“It doesn’t rain in Southern California”, well at least that’s how the song goes. Unless of course, you’re talking about the Los Angeles Lakers. This season, which happens to be Kobe Bryant’s last, has been one giant mess. The team with such a rich history and prestige is not contending for an NBA Championship, but instead a top-three pick in this June’s draft. If the Lakers get a pick outside the top-three, they lose it. Los Angeles is hoping to get either the first or second overall pick to draft either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.
This past Monday the Lakers suffered the worst loss in franchise history, a 48-point drubbing at the hands of the Utah Jazz. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was reported that rookie D’Angelo Russell had taken a video of a private conversation with teammate Nick Young that made its way to social media, via several sports gossip sites. In the video, which Young isn’t aware he is being recorded, is Russell asking Young about women he has been with. Here’s the twist; Young is engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea, so in the video, he was allegedly admitting to infidelity.
The Lakers season just took a drama-filled turn and that’s not something any team wants to deal with. It was reported that Russell’s teammates have lost trust in the 20-year old. The team has even gone as far as isolating the second overall pick in last year’s draft. Russell’s career just took a major hit, before really even getting started.
Russell broke the locker room code and that doesn’t sit well with the guys he suits up with and spends most of his time with. How that video got leaked is something we may never know, but it is 2016. Videos like this surface all the time, even if the person speaking in the video is unaware. For example, Hulk Hogan was just awarded $140 million in a lawsuit involving Gawker, after a private conversation involving Hogan surfaced where he was using derogatory racial slurs. Not that it makes what Hogan said any better, in fact what he said was downright disgusting and disturbing and should never be said by anyone, but the fact that a private conversation was leaked for the public to see. Once something goes on the internet, it’s on there forever. Gossip sites drool over any news of this nature that comes to light.
On Wednesday night, both Russell and Young spoke to the media for the first time since this report came out. Russell said he was “sick” over the matter and has offered countless apologies. Russell said he wishes he could make things better right away, but knows he can’t do that. Young on the other hand, did not field questions from the media instead saying that he and Russell need to sit down and talk about it.
Head coach Byron Scott, who has been criticized for not using Russell properly or letting him develop much in a time the Lakers need to see what they invested their future in, said he hasn’t and won’t talk to Russell about the incident. He said that’s a matter for Russell and Young to discuss privately.
Once trust is lost, it is quite hard to gain it back. Russell said if he lost anyone’s trust he is going to “work his tail off” to try and earn it back. That might not be so easy for the youngster, but time will tell with that. He said him and Young joke around all the time, but this wasn’t a prank and that is was for the eyes of he and Young and nobody else’s. He said he has “no clue” as to how the video got released.
Let’s not overlook the other guy in this scenario; Young. His own private actions, if what he said in that video is indeed true, are wrong no matter how you look at it. Just like Hulk Hogan, it doesn’t take away from what he’s allegedly done, but the manner in which it came to light isn’t right.
A slew of people chimed in on the incident, calling out Russell for his part in all of this. Most of them were not pleased with him and made their feelings known. Some have even said this will follow him for the rest of his career. This could be detrimental to for the Lakers to bring in free agents in the future, since Russell is someone the Lakers want to build around. If a key free agent is considering coming to LA, and Russell is still on the team, that could force the free agent to sign elsewhere. In today’s day and age of society, especially in sports, there is a forgive and forget method. If Russell is able to turn this around and be a star-caliber NBA player, this will be a minor blip on his career. However, if he struggles and doesn’t progress, his career could be cut short.
Some may look at this situation and question why Kobe Bryant did not get the same criticism as Russell when Bryant reportedly made a comment in 2003 when being questioned by the police. Bryant said that he should have paid off his women so they wouldn’t say anything like O’Neal did. Bryant went on to claim that Shaq would pay women up to $1 million to keep quiet about potential affairs. O’Neal of course denied the allegations and said Bryant wouldn’t know because they didn’t spend a lot of time together off the court.
Either way, some viewed Bryant as a snitch. The biggest difference between that situation and the current situation involving Russell is the fact Bryant never recorded a private conversation with Shaq that later got leaked to the public. Should Bryant have made those comments, no, but that feud was brewing for quite some time and was done through the media, but it still doesn’t mean it was right. Now, people hardly mention that anymore due to the decorated career Bryant went on to have. It’s a shame that in the final season of one of the greatest players we have ever watched play the game of basketball, we are dealing with situation of leaked videos and awful team performances. This obviously is not the way Bryant envisioned his career ending.
Bryant hasn’t commented on the situation, but you would have to think he isn’t thrilled and maybe even a bit disappointed.
As for Russell, some have questioned whether or not the Lakers will trade him after losing the trust of the locker room. Would another team take a chance on Russell if he is viewed as someone who can’t be trusted? Time will certainly tell for those questions to be answered.
As for Young, he should handle the matter with Russell and his finance in his own personal time. Nobody needs to know what happens or what Young says to either individual. That is a reason this has caused major drama for the Lakers heading into the final weeks of the season.
The Lakers stink this season and that is putting it mildly. If that wasn’t already enough, this incident now comes to light after a near 50-point loss. Bryant’s farewell tour has been nothing short of disastrous and that seems to be the outlook on the Lakers franchise as a whole.