Russell, Young Drama Dominating Headlines
The Warriors have won 67 of 74 games this season!
The Spurs are right behind them at 62-12 and are always scary come playoff time!
The Thunder have two superstars, a healthy team and are flying under the radar!
The Cavaliers – despite some drama – could potentially return to the NBA Finals!
Both conferences have interesting races for the final playoff seeds!
However, instead of focusing on all of that fun, basketball-related stuff, we’re talking about D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Iggy Azalea and stupid decisions. Twenty-four hours ago, I would’ve laughed if you told me today’s NBA PM would be about Swaggy P, Iggy and Russell. But here we are.
By now, you’ve surely heard the news that Russell recorded video of Young admitting to sleeping with other women (cheating on Azalea) and it somehow leaked to the internet.
ESPN first broke the story, revealing that the Lakers have isolated Russell from the rest of the team – especially Young. The 20-year-old point guard even had security escorting him out of the team’s facility today.
Russell refused to talk to reporters after practice. However, he and Young will address the media prior to tonight’s game against the Miami HEAT, according to the Lakers.
Byron Scott did address the media, but wouldn’t say much about the topic. He referred to it as an “internal matter” and tried to shut down any questions that weren’t related to tonight’s game.
“It’s an internal problem and we’ll handle it in house,” Scott said, according to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. “If you want to ask me about the Miami game we’re playing tonight, you can ask me. If not, this interview is basically over.
“The only thing I’m disappointed about is it got out. We’re a family and we try to keep everything in house. That’s the only thing I’m disappointed [about].”
League sources told Basketball Insiders that Russell recorded the video as a prank, but somehow it got leaked when his Snapchat account was hacked. Many have rolled their eyes at this (and understandably so) since athletes often scream, “HACKER!” in these situations to do damage control and blame others for their mistakes. But that’s what sources have said, and Russell has yet to tell his side of the story publicly.
There are also unanswered questions such as why he was recording the video in the first place, how Snapchat is related since the video in question is far too long for a Snapchat post and who hacked the Lakers rookie (if that is, indeed, true). Also, if he was actually hacked, why is this the only video that has surfaced?
There are more questions than answers right now and plenty of drama, but that’s always the case in Los Angeles soap operas and crazy reality shows, right?
The big questions are: How will this affect Russell’s standing with his teammates? Does this lead to Russell being traded (if the whole team is against him) or Young being dealt (if he’s the only one holding a grudge)? Will free agents not want to go to the Lakers because they see all of this drama and immature behavior, not to mention they may not trust Russell as a teammate?
As of right now, he’s needing security and nobody is talking to him, so this situation is clearly serious and it seems the Lakers are protecting him from a beating.
While cheating is obviously wrong and Young made mistakes here too, other players from around the NBA are coming down hard on Russell since he recorded Young without his permission and betrayed him (knowingly or not). Other players from rival teams are putting themselves in Young’s shoes and saying that they wouldn’t want any private conversation – about cheating or any other sensitive subject, for that matter – shared without their knowledge. And that’s completely understandable. There’s a reason it’s illegal to record people without their permission in some states.
Many NBA players from around the NBA who spoke anonymously told Basketball Insiders some form of, “You never do that to a teammate. Ever.”
Players take this very seriously. In fact, former NBA player Stephen Jackson was on ESPN earlier today and blasted Russell.
“Snitches get stitches, man,” Jackson said on SportsCenter. “Snitches get stitches; that’s the old rule. … You don’t expect this from your teammate. It’s a new day in basketball and I don’t understand.”
This is how upset some players are with Russell right now. And that’s Jackson, who is extremely removed from the situation. Imagine you’re Young, whose engagement could potentially be ruined. Yes, he made BIG mistakes and must be held accountable, but he’s reportedly furious with Russell. According to ESPN, other Laker players haven’t been supportive either, as there are reports that Russell has been eating alone and players walk away when he enters the room. He has been an outcast since this video surfaced.
The fact that Russell has acted immature for much of the season doesn’t help. Just last month, before Russell turned 20, Coach Scott called attention to his behavior.
“[B]eing at 19 years old, I always take that into consideration,” Scott told Mark Medina about Russell. “Every time I chastise him about something or get mad at him about something, I go back [to] that he’s 19. … I have to remind myself of that that he’s still a kid and still learning an still figuring out what this league is all about. [I tell him], ‘You’re 19 but sometimes I think you’re 14.’”
This is just the start of a messy situation that belongs in a high school rather than one of the NBA’s most successful franchises. Much more is surely to come, starting when Russell and Young speak to the media tonight.
UPDATE: Nick Young gave a statement to the media, saying that he didn’t want to discuss his personal life. He took no questions and seemed very shaken up:
Nick Young addresses reporters first. D’Angelo Russell will come one separately. pic.twitter.com/UmVXDZGkJd
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 31, 2016
D’Angelo Russell spoke about the situation, expressing remorse and confusion about the situation. Here’s a video of his remarks:
— rob (@R0BaTO) March 31, 2016
“I am sick,” Russell told The Vertical by phone on his drive to the Staples Center on Wednesday. “I am sorry about recording the video. I can’t repeat myself enough on that: I am sorry I recorded that video. I feel horrible. I wish this never happened.
“Honestly, I have no idea [how it got out]. Me and Nick, that’s our friendship: We play around a lot. Anyone who knows him and knows me, they know that about us. But I apologize for recording that video. I never intentionally wanted to hurt anyone. I never wanted what was said in there to get out. It was my fault that it did, but that was never intentional.
“The thing is, we record ourselves doing dumb stuff all the time,” Russell told The Vertical. “On the road or home, wherever. We go back and watch what we did and said and laugh at ourselves. I guess I just never thought that these pranks we pull on ourselves could have bigger consequences. That was a big lesson I learned.
“I’ve said to myself over and over: What could anyone possibly gain by intentionally doing something that could hurt someone else’s relationship? I never wanted to hurt anyone. I’m sorry for it.”
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