Time heals all wounds, or at least that’s what D’Angelo Russell thinks will help rekindle the bond he had with teammate Nick Young.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — D’Angelo Russell did extra work after practice again with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, competing with Jordan Clarkson in a two-on-two scrimmage.
Russell is also still putting in work in the locker room to heal the broken trust and hurt feelings from his misadventure in video.
So far, the results aren’t spectacular.
Russell indicated he hasn’t spoken extensively to teammate Nick Young since the rookie guard upended Young’s personal life with a leaked recording of Young talking about being with women other than his fiancee, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea.
“I’m getting over it, but (until) the person that it hurt the most gets over it, then I feel like it’s done,'' the 20-year-old Russell said. “But until he really lets it simmer down, then I think it will still be an issue. ... It’s at this point where you need your space. You can’t force peace if it’s not there. You can’t force it. You’ve got to let time heal it.”
Russell knows his private joke went incredibly wrong, and he has apologized repeatedly in public and to his team. He realizes that several former NBA players, including everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Stephen Jackson, believe Russell would have been subject to more physical retribution from teammates for such a breach of trust in the age before social media.
“I’d get physical back,” Russell said.
Nobody is picking fistfights, but the vibe is still strange around the Lakers, who somehow rallied on that bizarre Wednesday for a 102–100 overtime victory over the playoff-bound Miami Heat.
“It was a little awkward, but we just don’t try to focus on it,” said Julius Randle, who hit the game-winning shot. “There has to be trust, but it’s a situation between those two. I’m not going to treat anybody different. I’m not going to hold grudges against anybody.”
The Lakers had the day off Thursday before beginning preparation for Sunday’s visit from the Boston Celtics and the final seven games in Kobe Bryant’s farewell season. At 16–59, the Lakers still have a chance to avoid the worst season in franchise history, but the NBA’s 29th-place team would have to get on a roll to match or surpass last year’s record-low 21–61 mark.
Bryant and Young didn’t speak to the media on Friday. Bryant expressed empathy for Russell after Wednesday’s game, saying he doesn’t “think there’s much (Russell) can do about it, outside of the countless apologies.”
“It’s the elephant in the room, especially when those two guys come in the locker room,” added Clarkson, a good friend of both players. “I don’t know what they’re doing to handle it out between them, but D’Angelo handled it the right way. He apologized. ... It was crazy, but it’s L.A. It’s Nick and D’Angelo.''
Russell and Young were close friends until the controversy. While Russell is a pillar of the Lakers’ rebuilding effort as a talented point guard and the No. 2 pick in last summer’s draft, Young hasn’t played in the last 11 games of a poor season.
“People make mistakes,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We’ve got to understand that and we’ve just got to move on. Now will they ever be buddy-buddies again? I don’t know. But they do have to coexist as long as they’re both here, if they can.”