Rookie mistake causes rift within young Lakers team

By Ivan Mateo

Kobe’s Farewell Season with the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA unfortunately almost draws to a close, but this would not be a Lakers season without some form of drama, would it? Only in Los Angeles.

At the end of March, a video of Nick Young, self-proclaimed as “Swaggy P,” admitting he slept with other women leaked online. Rookie player D’Angelo Russell recorded the video and can be heard off camera goading at Young about his alleged affairs.

If the losing of over 60 games was not enough for the Laker players and fans to bear, add drama and trust issues into the mix. Herein, many problems lie. This is an incredible invasion of privacy. Young is currently engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea and did not know he was being recorded. Russell clearly aims the conversation in the direction of catching Young admit something.

The situation apparently began to create a rift inside the locker room. All teammates seemed to turn their backs on Russell at the Lakers game following the leak of the video. He was inundated with boos by the Laker faithful at the onset of the game and continuing throughout. Really, Laker fans? The rookie is trying to gain confidence, so why not try to shatter his psyche even more?

After the said game, Russell commented on the predicament he created.

“I can’t really show my face anywhere without people hating me right now,” said Russell. He said he felt “sick” and wished he “could make things better right away, but I can’t.” He knows what he did was completely out of line.

Fellow NBA players, NFL players and media members alike have lambasted the Lakers rookie for his actions of breaking the “bro code,” or the unspoken rule that men are supposed to trust and back up their friends first and foremost above anything else. Sports create an extended family for these players. When a player betrays another player it is rightly frowned upon.

NBA players criticized the rookie’s betrayal. Football players were mostly negative toward Russell, too. Terrance Knighton, a Patriots player tweeted, “D’Angelo Russell lucky he ain’t in a football locker room.” (Tell us how you really feel.)

Russell should not have videotaped any of this in the first place, even if it was supposedly for this so-called prank war the Lakers have to entertain themselves to help ignore the losing streak on the court. Technology in this day and age presents people with accessibility and convenience, but can also pose serious threats. People get hacked every day, and famous people just pack bigger heat.

Lost in this entire hullabaloo is that no one seemed to criticize Young for being unfaithful. Apparently, society let it sink in that a famous athlete cheating on his partner is nothing new. Instead, society sympathizes with the affected. Young is the victim in this whole Lakers mess, right?

Young, a 30-year-old veteran journeyman player should set good examples for young teammates, but instead is a laid back, goofy prankster. Russell, a 20-year-old rookie drafted second overall, is a young player trying to learn the ropes of the NBA world on and off the court. He falters mightily in this scenario because his focus should stay on the court, not the extracurricular activities off of it.

People saying this will haunt or doom the rookie’s career are absolutely crazy and shortsighted. As long as he continues to handle adversity, he should learn and mature further.

How about Iggy Azalea? She is the true victim here. Azalea is the one who was cheated on. A day after the video’s release, Azalea tweeted her thoughts on Twitter. “hmmm i see D Angelo Russell is trending… I actually liked his film. Thanks bro,” she wrote. She appeared recently on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and quashed the relationship rumors. “We’re good,” she said. “There isn’t any [controversy] at home, just on the Internet.”

Both Russell and Young committed dumb actions; both of them broke faithfulness and brotherhood to different people. Hopefully, these players can learn from their mistakes. All they could do is learn from them and rebuild their relationships.

Other than that, it’s just another day in Lakerland.


Photo courtesy of ESPN

D’Angelo Russell

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