This summer has doubled as an image rehabilitation tour for Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell. After a nightmare rookie season that included numerous public rebukes from his head coach and being painted as immature following an incident in which video he recorded of Nick Young admitting to infidelity became public, Russell is facing an uphill battle to change the public’s perception of him.
Russell used Las Vegas Summer League as a stage to remind NBA fans how talented he is, and he recently attempted to address the perception that he’s not a hard worker when speaking with Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News for a feature on the work the young Lakers have been putting in over the summer (h/t Corey Hansford of Lakers Nation).
“The people that say that about me don’t really matter,” Russell told Medina. “I know I’m in the gym. I know I’m asking for more and trying to get better. So people that are there witnessing it and putting me through the workouts, those are the people that matter.”
Russell seems to be taking the right attitude about critics. There isn’t anything he can do to change the mind of most people other than playing better. If the work he’s clearly put in over the summer (as documented on social media and in Medina’s piece) translates into the type of breakout campaign many are expecting, the shouting about his intangible qualities will be a lot more muted next summer.
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