by Yusuf Gadlin
Now that D’Angelo Russell is officially a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, I think it’s a safe bet that the Kobe Bryant hazing is about to begin. Young D’Angelo wanted Kobe Bryant to take him under his wing, but those brazing enough to grab hold of it often want a emergency landing. Kobe Bryant represents the last of the dying breed in the NBA, in terms of how the game should be played. The focus, will, dedication and love Kobe plays with is not common among today’s NBA players.
D’Angelo Russell represents the new age of basketball in terms of crossovers, stats, and twitter retweets as forms of validation of superstardom in the NBA. D’Angelo Russell is part of the “little brother” generation that has now ascended onto the NBA scene. Here is a example. The number eight overall pick Stanley Johnson just went to the Detroit Pistons. When Stanley eventually touches down in D-town, he will run into the franchises best player, 25 year old Brandon Jennings who is quite the character. Jennings still suffers from maturity issues, tweets constant nonsense on Twitter, often talks about who he “runs with” in the hottest basketball video game “NBA 2K16,” and probably has the most swag in the NBA besides Lakers guard Nick Young aka “Swaggy P.” What can a franchise leader at age 25, that suffers from these type of leadership flaws teach a kid like Stanley Johnson?
Jennings has some growing up to do, as well as other mid-20s NBA franchise players. You can look at Washington Wizards franchise player, 24 year old John Wall who occasionally flashes gang signs on the basketball court and was recently removed from a airplane for disorderly conduct. Again, I ask you what can the leader of this franchise teach his newly drafted teammate 19-year-old Kelly Oubre except he still needs guidance himself.
This is why D’Angelo Russell can’t squander this golden opportunity. He has a chance to detach himself from his sense of “entitlement” generational of hoopers that want to take shortcuts to greatness and refuse to sharpen their craft. D’Angelo has a chance to learn from a top five all-time great on how to be a true professional and more importantly how to be a champion.
Shortcuts will not be tolerated. The word “excuse” will be wiped from your vocabulary, you are about to learn from the greatest, and what it truly takes to be a Los Angeles Lakers.