clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The D'Angelo Russell vs. Nick Young feud, explained

New, comments

The Lakers' marquee rookie filmed Nick Young admitting that he cheated on his famous fiancée, except without Young's consent. Now, Russell's teammates are livid.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

So, D'Angelo Russell tried to prank Nick Young by recording him talking about cheating on famous fiancée Iggy Azalea. The video somehow got out.

Once it did, the other Lakers players shut Russell out by making him sit alone at breakfast. Brave, anonymous Lakers officials trashed Russell in the media. The saga is cited as a reason the Lakers lost to Utah by 48 damn points on March 28, 2016. (Most likely reason: the Lakers are trash.)

You have questions. We have answers.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 30, 2016 during the immediate aftermath of D’Angelo Russell’s video surfacing in the media. It’s once again relevant following the 2017 NBA Draft as Brooklyn Nets fans attempt to understand why the Lakers gave up on the 21-year-old point guard.

For more recent context, here's Kristian Winfield on how Russell is the lottery pick the Nets never had, and Matt Ellentuck on how Russell is no longer an afterthought.

WHAT THE HADES IS HAPPENING HERE?

D'Angelo Russell is 20 years old. Against his better judgment, he befriended Lakers teammate Nick Young.

Nick Young is one of the NBA's most notorious goofballs. He gave himself the nickname Swaggy P, he is one of the biggest ballhogs in the NBA and he is engaged to Iggy Azalea. ("Was engaged," perhaps.) He starred in one of the most hilarious memes of 2014 as he celebrated a shot he missed. He's also the current star of a popular and entirely relevant meme.

Apparently Young, Russell and other Lakers have participated in a prank war all season. This is not uncommon for immature trash teams with vacant leadership. (The Sacramento Kings are prank war champs to the point where the franchise has actually embraced the nonsense.)

Russell, as noted, is young. So maybe he didn't realize that he was taking the prank war too far by coaxing Young into admitting infidelity with a 19-year-old girl he met at a club while Russell surreptitiously recorded. Live and learn!

HOW DID THE VIDEO GET OUT?

That remains a mystery. It turned up on Fameolous, which is a site that is exactly what it sounds like. Russell may have shared it with someone who shared it with someone. Russell may have passed it on because he doesn't want Iggy Azalea to be hurt. Russell might have left his phone in a bathroom, and whoever lifted it might have gone through his videos. Maybe Russell was hacked. While speaking to the media, Russell reiterated that even he didn't know how the video got out.

IS THERE A CRIME HERE?

As NBA fans may remember from the Donald Sterling saga, California is a two-party consent state, which means that (assuming the recording was made in California, as it appears) Russell may have violated the law regarding the recording of private conversations. Chances that Young actually files a criminal complaint against Russell are nil, despite how great that would be. The same applies to a civil suit. It's far more likely that Young wants this story to go away than he wants to take money from Russell.

BUT HOW GREAT WOULD A D'ANGELO V. SWAGGY LAWSUIT BE?

So great.

DOES THIS HAVE BASKETBALL IMPLICATIONS?

Young remains under contract for next season, but the Lakers have been trying to trade him basically since they signed him. He's 30, and while he can be a microwave scorer, no team in the NBA actually needs him enough to put up with his unavoidable shenanigans.

The Lakers were going to try to trade Young regardless. This incident may also lead the franchise to jettison other veterans who are apparently involved in icing Russell post-video. ESPN reports Lou Williams got up and walked away when Russell recently sat next to him in the locker room. If any veteran Lakers hold grudges against Russell, the front office might find a way to get them out of there.

WHAT ABOUT IMPLICATIONS FOR RUSSELL'S FUTURE WITH THE TEAM?

Not even the Lakers are myopic enough to risk alienating or trading Russell over something as hilarious/meaningless as this. OR ARE THEY? From ESPN:

"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."

SHOULD THIS HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR RUSSELL'S FUTURE?

Hell no. Come on. This wasn't a smart thing to do by any stretch, and it's reasonable for Young to be mad at Russell for breaking whatever trust he believed they had. It's reasonable for other Lakers to have trust issues with Russell regarding personal matters. It's reasonable for the Lakers organization to be concerned about Russell's judgment. (Chances are they were already concerned with Young's judgment.)

But in the end, it's really some stupid, meaningless stuff that has no bearing on Russell's basketball future.

IS THERE PRECEDENT FOR THIS?

Yes! In fact, the most famous NBA example of infidelity snitching comes from the Lakers and the hero currently riding into the sunset. Back in 2003, Kobe Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault in Colorado. According to police reports, he told investigators that his then-teammate Shaquille O'Neal paid women hush money to keep his flings secret. This detail eventually made its way into the press, adding remarkable amounts of fuel to an already-infernal feud between the two. Shaq had been traded to Miami before the incident became common knowledge, though it's unclear when Shaq found out about it.

IS THIS ALL STAGED?

Iggy has a new single out called "Team." It's widely accepted that celebrities of various stripes (particularly actors and pop musicians) leverage rabid interest in celebrity gossip to boost sales, box office revenue and general notoriety. Buzz is its own end. Lots of people are buzzing about Iggy Azalea right now. It's not outside the realm of possibility -- heck, perhaps not outside Hollywood norms -- to stage a break-up at the perfect time to boost fan interest.

What if Iggy conspired with Young and Russell to set this up and release it to the world at just the right moment? What if the D'Angelo Russell-Nick Young saga is an inside job? The song is called "Team" after all. And the theme is self-reliance.

Baby I got me
Baby I got me
And that's all I need
Yeah that's all I need

Stay woke, my friends.

* * *

Be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel for highlight videos, features, analysis and more