D’Angelo Russell’s career path has been an interesting one. Once drafted to the Lakers as the face of the next generation, Russell was viewed as the type of prospect that, ideally, would bring the Lakers a title at some point in his career.
In the years since being selected No. 2 overall, a lot has changed for the Lakers and Russell alike. And while Saturday’s In-Season Tournament (IST) final is a far cry from an NBA title, it is tangible hardware that Russell would have helped the Lakers win.
Following Thursday’s win over the Pelicans, Russell was asked about what it would mean to help the Lakers win the NBA Cup and he gave a rather enlightening and honest answer.
“I think it’s a big deal just to be a part of the legacy,” Russell said. “I think that would make my legacy a little underrated from the outside looking in. But for my family, my fans, my friends, they know what I’ve been through here and they know who I’ve crossed paths with and to be able to be standing next to LeBron and AD and guys like that and win a championship, I don’t know if it’ll go unnoticed to a lot of people but for me, it’ll be a huge deal. I can officially say that I’d be a diehard Laker fan at that point, right? It’s a big deal.”
The initial reaction to this could be eye rolls or scoffs, but this feels about as genuine an answer as he could have given. This trophy is worth something, even if the franchise and the league won’t — and shouldn’t — view it at the level of an actual championship.
Winning the inaugural IST will make this team memorable. And Russell has had a role in that. In six games in the competition, Russell is third on the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game while shooting 54.7% from the field and 51.5% from the 3-point line.
This isn’t the end goal for D’Lo or the Lakers, but being part of winning a trophy of any sort should be celebrated, especially when you’ve had the ups and downs of Russell’s career.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.