If you follow the shenanigans of the sports world, there are two stories you are probably familiar with: the WTF-is-happening world of Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and Kehlani, the R&B singer few have ever heard of, and the Instagram photo heard round the world; and, more recently, Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell’s phone versus everybody, which is happening out in Los Angeles right now.
And before anybody falls on the Donald Sterling sword and asks for a differentiation, Sterling was a man who viewed people he employed in a racist fashion, which directly affects his ability to do his job. Sure, it was f—ked up how he got exposed, but he did. And unfortunately—read that again: unfortunately—we do view a man cheating on his fiancee or wife differently. We live in a world where being a cheater is way less substantial than being a racist. Cheating has an impact on Swaggy’s personal life, which is the problem—why is Russell putting Swaggy’s personal life out there?—whereas Sterling being a racist affects his professional life. And Sterling’s girlfriend V. Stiviano caught all the hell for that, too. It’s not as if anybody wanted to give her an award for outing a racist.
He is an idiot.
Let’s start with the facts. Russell was the 2015 No. 2 draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers out of Ohio State, who had hopes of coming in and reinvigorating a franchise held hostage by Kobe Bryant’s salary and ego. Well, as everybody knows, Kobe decided that he wanted people to like him, so he plans to retire after this season and has miraculously turned into one of the most likable players in the NBA. Pigs have been flying everywhere—luckily with Southwest Airlines, where they are free to move about the country.
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Despite going on his Derek Jeter-esque farewell tour, Kobe has been abysmally terrible. Lucky for him, the rest of the Lakers suck, too. They’re a s—tty team. Full stop. If Kobe really had a heart, he’d suit up for only the first five minutes of the game and then go sit on the bench and sign autographs for the rest of the game while the young boys got their legs underneath them. But I ain’t one to gossip, so you ain’t heard that from me. It doesn’t matter, anyway—the season is almost over, a light at the end of an otherwise black-hole-painted-with-black-paint-looking tunnel in La-La Land.
But the Lakers do have some young gunners who have talent. They just need to harness it and get their chemistry up. Well, like a chemistry experiment gone bad … the party is done. In what will go down as a (I’m guessing) career-defining moment, Russell decided to both engage and record teammate Nick Young in a conversation about some of his sexual conquests. Nick Young, aka Swaggy P, is currently engaged to rapper-nonrapper Iggy Azalea.
There are many things wrong with this story. Let’s try to attack them all, shall we? Yes. Let’s.
First off, Young, while being the victim here, is still in the wrong. He’s clearly a cheater, and while this is no way for anybody to find out, my man has some work to do in the “about to be a husband” department. Sure, he’s no Christopher Columbus in the cheating-on-his-#bae lane, but still, do better, Swaggy P. Of course, the lesson he probably learned is not to answer questions about his personal business … not the one more pertinent to his life: Don’t cheat.
Now that we got that out the way, Russell can never be trusted again. For one, why the hell are you hittin’ Swaggy P (who, again, answered the questions) with interview questions about his exploits? If you ask me a question about my personal life, I am likely to answer, but you ask two in a row and I’ll start inquiring why you’re all up in my Kool-Aid. And I’m going to want an answer. “I’m just asking” is not a sufficient response.
If I’m Swaggy P, I’m definitely on high alert. Clearly, he viewed Russell as a friend and somebody he could trust with that information. Or, more likely, he viewed Russell as somebody like him, living a life full of excess and f—kery as an NBA player. There’s a code there, right? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Lesson learned.
But Russell asked questions and Swaggy P answered, while being taped, unbeknownst to him. How did he find out? After he answered, Russell said, “Thanks for telling this to my phone,” or something like it. All bad, fam. Just all bad.
Why there wasn’t a fight that night is beyond me.
But Swaggy is telling tales out of school. Russell is recording them. And then boom … the video leaks.
Now, I know s—t gets hacked. But if you’re anybody in the NBA, are you going to trust that somebody got to his phone? No. You’re going to think that 1) dude is messy, and 2) BUDDY ACTUALLY LEAKED THE S—T?!?!
He is dead to the NBA. The Lakers have already started isolating themselves from him. Nobody wants to talk to him or sit with him or be around him. It’s not hard to understand why. I don’t even know the dude, and I want no words with him. Even Lou Williams, a man whose girl literally has a girlfriend and he used to date both, is like, “Nah, B, my dirt is out there, but I don’t trust fam.”
The fact that Russell taped Young is not super surprising. It is, but it isn’t. I’m sure people have tons of s—t on their phones that never needs to see the light of day. The fact that he both taped it and used it is where it all falls down. He’s been exposed as a “snitch bitch,” in the parlance of one Lucious Lyon.
He gathered evidence and put somebody else on blast in an industry full of guys who are probably living a home life and an away life pretty consistently. Nobody will want to play with him. It ain’t like he’s LeBron or Kobe (a man who knows plenty about throwing a teammate under the bus). He’s not a once-in-a-lifetime talent whose transgressions pale in comparison with his talent. In short, he’s expendable. His value to any team has to go down because you can’t lead a team (he’s a point guard) when nobody wants to follow you.
And be clear, nobody wants any parts of this fraud right now.
He violated. Plain and simple, no matter how he and his agent eventually try to spin it.
Swaggy P needs to not have anything worth exposing; this much is true. But even if he was on the video talking about how much he loved Azalea, there’s no reason that a conversation he didn’t know was being recorded should be out here.
Everybody was wrong in that instance. And everybody is wrong here. But Russell ruined his life by being somebody who is a worker who has destroyed his ability to work with others because they don’t trust him. That’s a bridge too far.
I’d like to say that I hope D’Angelo Russell bounces back from this (pun) and manages to fix his situation with his teammates and salvages his career.
I just don’t think he’ll be able to overcome it unless he becomes Russell Westbrook overnight.
And that’s on the record.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.