EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — In this day and age, saying one controversial thing can have massive repercussions — just ask new Los Angeles Lakers rookie Larry Nance Jr.
But following Monday’s rookie introduction press conference, it appears Nance is on his way to getting back into the good graces of the Lakers organization and fans.
"It was definitely something I’ll learn from," Nance said regarding his 2012 tweet that made reference to Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case. “Now I just have to make it up to you [the media] guys and the Lakers fans.”
The tweet — that was quickly deleted on Thursday night — was brought to Nance’s attention two minutes after he heard his name called by commissioner Adam Silver during the first round of the NBA draft.
“It was about 24 hours that passed where I was sick to my stomach,” Nance said. But the forward from Wyoming made sure to get Bryant’s phone number and sent an apology as soon as he could.
In his text to Bryant, he referred to Kobe as “Mr. Bryant” and will continue to refer to him that way until he gets the green light otherwise. Fortunately for Nance, Bryant, who does have a reputation of being hard on rookies, simply told him not to worry about it and that it was “water under the bridge.”
Nance was not only genuine in apologizing when grilled by the media, but he also appears ready to take any criticism from his new teammates and fans.
The press conference wasn’t all about Larry Nance Jr. as two other rookies were introduced in Anthony Brown and the No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell.
Brown, who grew up in nearby Fountain Valley, can say something that neither Russell nor Nance can: he is a lifelong Lakers fan. The Stanford product said he’d assume the role of “historian” and “teach [Russell and Nance] about Lakers history.”
However, Russell delivered the most quotable moment of the afternoon when asked about his athleticism and how it might stack up against other members of the 2015 rookie draft class.
“I consider myself the top basketball player in the draft,” Russell confidently answered.
Russell has laid down the gauntlet and declared himself the best rookie in the NBA.
We will have to wait until October to see if anyone challenges him for that title.