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Teenagers have always done dumb things. And now that just about all of them are outfitted with cell phones featuring cameras, we’re reminded of as much just about daily.
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And, because teenagers are capable of being good NBA players, they will (rightfully) earn employment in this league. As a result, the league and its older players will have to sit through the same sort of growing pains that come from having to mind a kid that is about to turn 19 into 20. A report from ESPN early on Wednesday reminded us of that.
Allegedly, newly turned-20 Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell reportedly filmed a conversation with teammate Nick Young, who is famously engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea, without Young’s knowledge. The clip somehow found its way online recently, and as a result Russell has become a bit of a pariah inside the Lakers' locker room.
"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."
In the video, Russell asks Young at one point, "You was 30 and she was 19?" referencing Young's age and the age of another woman that Young said that he met in a nightclub.
"What about Amber Rose?" Russell later says, mentioning another celebrity.
"No, she knows my girl," Young is recorded as saying.
Later in the conversation, while apparently still recording, Russell is heard telling Young, "I'm glad you told my video all that."
"Huh?" Young says, turning his face toward Russell before the video cuts off.
All of this comes toward the end of the Lakers’ literal and figurative Worst Season Ever, the most recent example of such coming in the team’s embarrassing 48-point blowout loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday. A breach of Bro Trust doesn’t excuse the squad’s insistence on playing “wow, really … and you get paid for this?”-defense in Salt Lake City (Young sat out the game due to a stomach ailment), but our reaction to that malaise was truly telling.
It’s true that the one-sided scoreboard in Utah on Monday could have been expected – the Lakers are the worst team in the West, while the Jazz are a current playoff team just starting to turn into gear.
Outside of the lopsided score, though, nothing seemed all that shocking: Los Angeles does not care about defense, and in handing the reins over to a skinflint front office, coach Byron Scott, while making Kobe Bryant the NBA’s highest-paid player (to say nothing of employing Nick Young’s shot selection), little seemed awry. The saddest part is that the record-setting loss seemed so normal.
This isn’t to excuse Nick Young’s public shaming, though, nor D’Angelo Russell’s work, and what Young’s fiancée now has to unfortunately answer for:
"He's such a kid. I told him the other day, 'You're 19 but sometimes I think you're 14.' And then sometimes I say, 'You're 19 but sometimes like today, you're 22, 23.' We have a real playful relationship because he's such a playful kid. At practice he has fun until we say, 'All right, let's get serious because it's practice.' Shoot-around is the same thing. But you can't help but just smile and like the kid."
That’s pretty much how things work with all 19-year-olds, and most 20-year-olds. Russell turned 20 in February, but that’s hardly a demarcation point.
Just because someone that age can afford the finest dry-aged cuts, it doesn’t mean they’re going to choose it over chicken fingers and two tubs of ranch dressing. Just because the bank account is full, it doesn’t mean they know how to endorse that check. Just because a dress code is required upon entering the arena, it doesn’t mean life isn’t spent in a series of hoodies and sweats. Which is absolutely fine – enjoy it while you can.
And, given the opportunity to be cheeky, kids are going to go for it. And D’Angelo Russell is still kid, and all the kids have phones with really, really good cameras in them.
D’Angelo Russell didn’t deserve this sort of professional setting in his rookie year, Nick Young didn’t deserve being set up, Iggy Azalea certainly doesn’t deserve having to answer for her fiancée’s alleged wandering eye, and Lakers fans (even after years of long playoff trips into June) don’t deserve this sort of Scott and Bryant-led season. It’s been a waste.
What we’re just hoping is that any of this can be teachable.
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