Sports

Diehl ’18: Media completely misses the point on the D’angelo Russell scandal

By
Sports Columnist
Friday, April 8, 2016

Over the past two weeks, the news of D’angelo Russell — a rookie point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers — recorded a video of teammate Nick Young talking about his affairs with other women has dominated sports media. The leaked video has been so heavily discussed because Young is currently engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea. The media coverage and reaction from the NBA has overwhelmingly sought to frame Russell as a complete villain, while Young has been treated almost like a victim.

Detroit Pistons’ forward Marcus Morris was quoted as saying “I’ll probably never speak to (Russell) again,” while popular ESPN “First Take” co-host Stephen Smith chalked Russell’s actions up to a violation of “man code.”

“You do not do what this man did under no circumstances,” he continued.

To be clear, Russell is 20 years old, so he’s younger than at least half of us on this campus. To be treated so harshly and even hated by so many people for a video that revealed someone’s infidelity is misguided.

But more importantly, hardly anyone directed any of the focus towards Young and his actions.

Obviously there is an unspoken locker room code stipulating that teammates don’t let their personal lives affect their work, and they are also expected to be close confidants of their friends. But through their actions, the media and the NBA are choosing not to hold athletes to a standard that the rest of us are held to. Just because someone is rich and in the NBA doesn’t mean he’s entitled to any woman he wants. But apparently that’s not how people involved with the NBA feel.

To her credit, ESPN reporter Michelle Beadle called out the rest of her colleagues for failing to criticize Young, but she seems to be the only one willing to direct any of the focus towards Young. I haven’t seen a single man on ESPN who has been willing to specifically take issue with Young.

Furthermore, Azalea actually thanked Russell for the video. But this has somehow flown so far under the radar that people can’t even concede that the outcome of this video isn’t entirely bad. Azalea is the one who’s the real victim here, not Young. But because he’s an NBA player, and it violated “man code,” people are enraged on his behalf.

If people were persecuted this harshly for revealing someone cheated to a public audience, then would Bob Woodward have reported about Nixon’s wiretappings?

Probably. I understand that it’s an entirely different profession where politicians are expected to be accountable, but just because he’s an athlete, should Young get an automatic pass for his behavior?

As a man, I’m calling out the patriarchy here. This is a chance for people to realize how the media has treated Russell, and especially Azalea, with a lack of respect. Good thing the Lakers are absolutely terrible and Kobe’s retiring — because this story is a headache for all and could have been blown even more out of proportion.

Joe Diehl ’18 can be reached at joseph_diehl@brown.edu.

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