It’s almost rare when you see a highly coveted basketball prospect go from an obvious bust one season to an all-star the following.
They have a term for that with “most improved” but that’s usually reserved for a bench player that becomes an important sixth man to the team. It’s not usually a starting point guard on a lousy team that becomes the leader on a different playoff team.
But that’s what one NBA star did this last season and then he went ahead and did the dumbest thing when he tried to illegally smuggle marijuana at New York’s LaGuardia airport.
D’Angelo Russell has a complicated past in the NBA.
Russell was at the top of his NBA prospect class and was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He had a huge hole to fill on the Lakers roster and especially with an aging Kobe Bryant still trying to cash in on one last championship before he officially retired in 2016.
Russell was a promising prospect that didn’t quite deliver. Maybe it was too much pressure or maybe it was because he was (and also is) insanely immature.
Controversy stirred when the young 19-year-old Lakers point guard secretly recorded then-teammate Nick Young admitting that he consistently cheated on his then-girlfriend pop star Iggy Azalea and then perplexingly posted it on social media.
Regardless of where you stand on maybe that being a noble action, but if you’re an NBA basketball player then that will absolutely destroy your reputation in the locker room because the trust just flew out the window. How are you supposed to do your job as a basketball player if no one trusts you as a teammate?
Consequently, the player that pretty much seemed like a bust had a resurgence with the Brooklyn Nets where he led his team to the 6th seed in the playoffs and shocked everyone when they actually won the first game of the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers.
But the immaturity still remained.
Russell was cited on Wednesday for trying to smuggle marijuana at LaGuardia Airport as he was trying to fly to Louisville, Kentucky where his father resides.
A TSA spokesperson told Newsday that the marijuana was found inside a hidden compartment of an AriZona Iced Tea can.
Trying to smuggle the marijuana through an airport isn’t the dumbest thing about what he did. The dumbest thing is that he attempted to smuggle contraband inside contraband because everybody knows you can’t carry liquid through security at an airport.
Here’s ESPN analyst Will Cain breaking it down on “First Take.”
This fool hid contraband inside of contraband! pic.twitter.com/LBdJ09ZBbE
— Will Cain (@willcain) May 3, 2019
Now, to be fair, there has been much discussion with no definitive evidence of whether he tried to carry it through security or whether he put it in his checked bag.
It’s not clear, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most boneheaded decisions a superstar athlete who became a first year all-star could make. As Stephen A. Smith always says, “STAY OFF THE WEEEEEEEEED!”
Why would you take such a stupid and silly risk? The good news for him is that in the state of New York, a possession of marijuana charge only carries a $100 fine and he makes more than enough money to afford that.
But according to the NBA collective bargaining agreement, a player who violates the league’s marijuana policy enters a “marijuana program” upon first violation, can be fined $25,000 upon second violation and can be suspended five games upon a third violation.