The 2016 version of the Los Angeles Lakers organization has already proven that it lacks any passion for winning, developing young talent, or being anything more than a traveling circus: a Washington Generals–esque vessel for Kobe Bryant’s LA County–sized ego. But now, despite the team’s 16-59 record, we have finally found something that stirs their hearts, unites them with purpose, and makes them care: “The Bro Code.”
With fewer than 10 games left in the season, talented 20-year-old rookie D’Angelo Russell is being shunned like Hester Prynne—literally shunned—because he videoed 30-year-old teammate, and self-described mentor, Nick “Swaggy P” Young talking about his hook-up with a 19-year-old woman at a club. Young, an absurdly unserious facsimile of a pro basketball player, is engaged to the absurdly unserious facsimile of a hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea. If Kobe Bryant is this team’s unsmiling Il Duce, Swaggy & Iggy are their prom king and homecoming queen. Young was also accused of sexual harassment last month—along with another very promising young player, Jordan Clarkson, whom one assumes Swaggy was also mentoring—and few in the team or in the media seemed to notice or care. This is the odiously infantile carnival that’s been tasked with developing D’Angelo Russell.
Over the last 48 hours, Russell has apologized endlessly, saying he has no idea how the video leaked. He deserves to be criticized, and even confronted. No one should be videoed without their consent. But he’s also 18 months out of high school and the pile-on against him—the absolute flaying of young Mr. Russell—has been both hyperbolic and inane. People old enough to know better should also be true mentors enough to give him a damn break. Instead, this kid who isn’t even old enough to order a drink in a bar, is basically being told that his very future in the league is in doubt.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith—the same Stephen A. Smith who was suspended from ESPN for blaming battered women for “provoking” male violence—said the following (This is in caps because Stephen A Smith is always yelling): “as a man, you don’t do that. under no circumstances, do you infiltrate yourself in somebody else’s business and discuss or reveal their private personal affairs. particularly when it comes to women, you turn the other way. you didn’t see, you saw no evil, you heard no evil, you know no evil. shut the hell up, mind your own business, step off and move on.”
Smith also said, “This is one of those situations where the Lakers gotta contemplate trading him. This is one of those situations where his agent needs to contemplate dropping him so he doesn’t lose other clients.”