Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell had something of a tumultuous rookie season. As the number two overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he came into the league with high expectations. While Russell struggled early, he did show flashes of brilliance that gave hope that the Lakers made the correct decision in selecting him rather than going with consensus favorite Jahlil Okafor.
Unfortunately, at the end of the season, Russell got into some hot water when a video he recorded leaked onto the internet, which featured teammate Nick Young discussing his extracurricular activities outside of his relationship with then-fiance Iggy Azalea. After enduring the resulting firestorm, Russell appeared in a commercial for Foot Locker along with Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, and Ben Simmons that made light of the situation as he attempts to move past it.
However, Russell said that his goal wasn’t necessarily to be funny, even though most people took it that way (via Danielle Lerner of courier-journal.com):
“Honestly, it wasn’t my intention to be funny. It was more about getting my point across as far as coming into this league a phone will get you in trouble. Throughout the season I got in trouble using my cell phone. I made a statement admitting that I recorded a video and it got out. Not sure how it got out, but I made it clear that it wasn’t me that the video came from. I just made my statement and it’s something I can learn from.”
Whether it was intended or not, the commercial certainly had a humorous tone to it. Nick Young may not have found it funny, but the general reaction to the spot seemed to be positive.
Russell is correct that in our modern, always-connected world, devices like phones can lead to trouble for young athletes, and it’s good to hear that he views the situation as one that he can learn from.