Apart from a chance to savor the final moments of Kobe Bryant’s career, the season can’t end soon enough for the 15-59 Los Angeles Lakers. Now a new issue has reportedly arisen that has created the greatest tension yet in the team’s locker room, and rookie D’Angelo Russell, who the team hopes will succeed Bryant as its next superstar, is at the center of the turmoil.
Several days ago, a video was tweeted out by a gossip website that showed Nick Young, who got engaged to pop star Iggy Azalea last year, briefly discussing cheating on Azalea with a pair of women, including model Amber Rose. At the time, it was rumored that Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, had secretly shot the video, and on Tuesday, ESPN confirmed those rumors.
What’s more, according to ESPN, Russell’s teammates are irate about the recording, seeing it as a personal betrayal, and have responded by “isolating” the first-year guard. From that report:
The emergence of the video, sources said, has been the talk of the locker room for the past several days and has led to a tangible strain between Russell and some teammates.
At a recent breakfast meeting, one source said, no Laker would sit with Russell at his table. The source added that, in another instance, Russell came into the locker room and sat next to guard Lou Williams, who got up and walked away.
“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.”
Russell, who spent one season at Ohio State before turning pro and turned 20 in February, has had his level of maturity called into question by Coach Byron Scott. “This was a prank gone wrong,” an anonymous source told ESPN.
Not surprisingly, the report of bad blood in the Lakers’ locker room sent the Internet into a frenzy, and sparked more than a few wisecracks.
On Monday, the Lakers were trounced on the road by the Jazz, 123-75, with the 48-point margin matching the worst loss in franchise history. Some are speculating that the team’s tension contributed to its miserable performance, one in which Russell scored five points on 2-of-11 shooting.
In addition to plunging Russell into controversy, the episode continues a tumultuous stretch for Young. Last week, he and teammate Jordan Clarkson were accused of sexually harassing two women at a Los Angeles intersection; after an investigation, the Lakers stated their “support” for the two players.