In the wake of the Nick Young video fiasco, D’Angelo Russell has one notable member of the Los Angeles Lakers offering him the benefit of experience: Kobe Bryant.
“All I can do is just do my best Yoda impersonations and give him that kind of sage advice, I guess,” Bryant told reporters after Wednesday’s win over the Miami Heat. “One day pass, this shall – or something like that.”
“I’m sure he’ll evolve. I’m sure he’ll grow, and I’m sure he’ll be better from it,” Bryant added. “I don’t think there’s much he can do about it now, outside of the countless apologies, there’s not really anything else he can do but just continue to perform, continue to earn the trust of his teammates and his peers and onward he goes.”
Russell is 20 years old. Bryant, now 37, was in a similar situation himself when he was in his mid-20s.
In 2003, during the investigation into a sexual assault allegation against Bryant, the superstar – who admitted to a consensual adulterous liaison with the accuser – was quoted in a Colorado police report as saying he “should have done what (Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal) does … that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything.”
The lurid report ratcheted up the Kobe-Shaq feud of the day into overdrive, prompting O’Neal’s trade to the Miami Heat in 2004. The charges against Bryant were dropped the same year after the accuser refused to testify.
Time has appeared to heal the wounds between the two future Hall of Famers, with the pair discussing having buried the hatchet on more than one occasion.
“He talked to the guys tonight,” Bryant said of Russell on Wednesday. “I think the guys are understanding. I think we’re all human beings; I don’t think anybody can hold anybody in strict judgment, because everybody makes mistakes … I think we’ll realize we’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all made massive ones at times. The important thing is to show compassion, empathy.”
Russell, who issued an apology before Wednesday’s game, continued to show contrition afterward.
“You can’t undo the damage that’s been done,” he said. “All you can do is stay apologetic from your heart and show how much you care and how sorry you are to your teammates for putting them through something like this that really could tear a locker room apart. It’s all on me.”