Foot Locker has this knack for getting current and former professional athletes to make light of their own imagined insecurities and all-too-real failures. They got Victor Cruz to laugh off his probably-very-real jealousy of Odell Beckham Jr. They got Charles Barkley to make a funny about the time he hurled a man through a bar window. Karl Malone and Chris Webber both got in on a joke about how neither ever won a chip.
Yesterday, the retailer released a new TV spot with odds-on no. 1 NBA draft pick Ben Simmons, and 2015 first-round picks Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, and D’Angelo Russell, in which the three rising sophomores school the incoming freshman on how to not blow it. The ad ends with Russell taking Simmons’s phone and chucking it out of the window for him, which is just [kisses fingers like a satisfied chef] marvelous.
This comes just three months after a video of Nick Young talking about messing around with women who were not his then-fiancée Iggy Azalea somehow made its way onto the internet — a video that D’Angelo Russell sneakily recorded, but insisted that he didn’t leak.
The 20-year-old said he was sorry, but his apology was drowned out by the teeth gnashing over his violation of the highly mythologized “circle of trust” between teammates. Personally, I thought harping so much on the Bro Code when the dispute was between two people who were about to enter a nuptial agreement was kind of unsavory. But I mean, also, don’t snitch, you know?
Whatever the Unwritten Rules, Russell definitely broke them. He also broke the actual law, since California is a two-party consent state. Having proven himself untrustworthy, he had to get back into the good graces of his teammates and the public, and that was a long row to hoe. To put it in perspective, Lil B saddled Russell with the dreaded “Based God’s Curse” for his transgressions less than two weeks ago (which he later lifted) and still, it felt pretty fair.
But after seeing Russell bust himself on a nationally televised commercial about a very dumb thing he did very recently? I don’t know about you, but I’m back in.
I mean, come on. He still isn’t even able to legally buy a drink. This all began with a cataclysmic error in judgement, yes? I think we can reasonably say that Russell’s judgement has improved, considering he managed to finesse a check out of his mea culpa. You’ve got to respect that.
Respect is not something Nick Young has a surplus of. He is newly single after Azalea announced that she was calling off their engagement over the weekend, citing some pretty understandable trust issues. This caps a pretty bleak run for Young. In April, the Lakers (who have basically been trying to offload the 31-year-old since they renewed his contract in 2014) benched him for the remainder of the season because he wasn’t with them “mentally.” While benched, he dealt with sexual harassment allegations. Then he capped his season with this cherry: asking Kobe Bryant to sign his shoes after Bryant’s batshit, 60-point final game, only to have Bryant respond by throwing Young’s shoes in the trash (though he did break him off with a signed score sheet). Now this.
In other words, future face of the franchise D’Angelo Russell is creeping his way back into our hearts, using the tried-and-true method of self-deprecation, and Nick Young — poor, goofy, ordinarily lovable Nick Young — is out here looking very weak.