In the aftermath of a leaked video of teammate Nick Young, a seemingly contrite Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell told The Vertical that he felt “sick” and “sorry” and insisted that he never considered that “these pranks that we pull on each other could have bigger consequences.”
Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft and a cornerstone of the Lakers’ future, has been leveled with the public revelation of a 30-second video that included Young discussing relationships with women outside of his engagement to entertainer Iggy Azalea.
Russell used his phone to make the video in December, but it wasn’t until last week that a celebrity website obtained the video and made it public.
“I am sick,” Russell told The Vertical by phone on his drive to the Staples Center on Wednesday. “I am sorry about recording the video. I can’t repeat myself enough on that: I am sorry I recorded that video. I feel horrible. I wish this never happened.”
When asked about how the video left his possession and became public months after it was recorded, Russell told The Vertical: “Honestly, I have no idea. Me and Nick, that’s our friendship: We play around a lot. Anyone who knows him and knows me, they know that about us. But I apologize for recording that video. I never intentionally wanted to hurt anyone. I never wanted what was said in there to get out. It was my fault that it did, but that was never intentional.
“The thing is, we record ourselves doing dumb stuff all the time,” Russell told The Vertical. “On the road or home, wherever. We go back and watch what we did and said and laugh at ourselves. I guess I just never thought that these pranks we pull on ourselves could have bigger consequences. That was a big lesson I learned.
“I’ve said to myself over and over: What could anyone possibly gain by intentionally doing something that could hurt someone else’s relationship? I never wanted to hurt anyone. I’m sorry for it.”
Russell told the Vertical that he had spoken to Young and apologized to him – but wouldn’t say whether he believed his apology had been accepted. “He heard me out,” Russell told The Vertical. “I cherish our friendship on and off the court. … I never meant to hurt anyone.”
For Russell, the larger issue remains how his teammates – current and future – will accept him. As a point guard, Russell will need players to buy into his leadership. At 20 years old, that was a job that was hard enough for him already. Russell declined to discuss how his teammates had treated him in recent days, but acknowledged that he had relationships to repair.
“Listen, man, I know that it will take some time to regain trust and confidence,” Russell told The Vertical. “I hope they know I would never intentionally hurt someone – and know how horrible I feel.”
After leaving Ohio State after a sparkling freshman season a year ago, Russell wanted desperately for the Lakers to draft him at No. 2 overall. Despite an uneven year of performance and playing time – and now the fervor over the video – Russell insists that his desire to play and ultimately blossom with the Lakers is unwavering.
“I have the best job in the world, playing for this franchise, in a city that I love,” Russell told The Vertical. “You have to be willing to take the good with the bad, and that’s part of this job. … But I feel even stronger today than I did then. I love this city and love this franchise. … I take nothing for granted.
“I know this is going to be tough. I am a good person. I cherish the relationships I have and I would never intentionally hurt someone. I will work hard to earn back the trust of my teammates and those who were impacted by this.
“I’ll do whatever it takes.”