Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell joined Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell and Mychal Thompson on ESPN 710’s Thompson & Trudell Wednesday morning to talk about everything from playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson to preparing for his first training camp.
Below is a full transcription of the interview:
Q: On how he’s doing overall:
Russell: I’m great, man. Adjusting is the key right now, but I’m great.
Q: On what he is doing to get himself ready for training camp:
Russell: I’m preparing mentally. I don’t know what’s coming my way, but I know Coach (Byron Scott) is on top of his guards when it comes to being in good shape. Mentally and physically condition-wise, I’m just trying to get prepared for it.
Q: On whether there is one person who has helped him transition to the NBA the most:
Russell: (Assistant coach) Larry Lewis is one of the main guys that I’ve been working with. He really has an interest in me getting better as soon as possible. So I respect his work ethic and work with him every day.
Q: On whether he has been told that he will be the Lakers’ starting point guard from day one:
Russell: No, I have not been told that. … Whatever Coach’s decision is made, I know it will be the right one.
Q: On whether he and Jordan Clarkson have discussed about playing together:
Russell: I feel like we’re dangerous for our team. We both rebound. We both can push the break, and we both can run the wing. So if he gets it and I’m running the wing, he can set up the offense or make the right decisions and vice versa with me. I feel like it’s dangerous, and we can play together easily. I think it will just take some time.
Q: On which player he is looking forward to playing the most:
Russell: I’m not going to give you the “right” answer on this one, because I really don’t know. I’m not going to say any names, but I know this whole Western Conference is full of great point guards. So I’m just looking to make my first go-around with those guys.
Q: On his day-to-day regiment in getting his body ready for the NBA season:
Russell: There’s been a lot of success throughout this whole organization, and (head athletic trainer) Gary Vitti is a legend around here. His credibility’s off the charts. So if he tells me or asks me to do something, I’m right on it. That’s with anybody around here. It’s like they try to have the best of the best around here. Everybody’s opinion matters to me. I’m 19 years old. I’m just coming in like a sponge to whatever I’m willing to learn.
Q: On why he thinks that Tracy McGrady might have been the greatest player of all-time:
Russell: Lakers fans felt that I was taking shots at Kobe (Bryant) when it was the complete opposite. I know a lot of guys that are out there that have never played basketball, and then there’s guys that have. If you’re watching highlights on somebody and they’re doing stuff that’s got you like “Wow!” and you’re trying to watch the next highlight on them — you’re just like, “Man, he might have been nice.” I probably used the wrong term — the greatest of all-time — but I was watching a highlight on him at the time. I could’ve been watching Vince Carter or Allen Iverson and would’ve said (that), and everyone would’ve gone crazy, but it was no disrespect.
Q: On what his communication has been like with Bryant:
Russell: I’m a rookie, so I don’t want to come in acting like I know the guy. And I don’t want to come in acting like I’m too cool. That first impression is a big impression. I reached out, told him happy birthday, and that’s it. We talked about linking up before training camp, and that was it. I don’t want to be harassing the dude because I’m a fan and I’m a teammate. I just kind of let it play by.
Q: On what he thinks of the city of Los Angeles:
Russell: I have my own condo. The city’s nice, man. I ride around with my brothers around the city all the time looking for places to eat. There are so many different places to eat. Then when the sun goes down, the scenery’s even better. It’s a beautiful city.
Q: On his individual goal for the season:
Russell: One: I want to be a guy that everybody is saying, “I want him on our team because I know he’s going to make me better.” That’s my impression. You’ve got a lot of guys that say, “I pick him because he’s gonna run through a brick wall for me. He’s a junkyard dog. He’s this and that.” But I want to be the player that’s gonna make everyone around him better. That’s my intention.
Q: On who his alma mater, Ohio State, should start at quarterback:
Russell: I have no idea, man. I guess Braxton (Miller) did a great job of changing positions and making it easier on everybody, but I couldn’t imagine what Coach Urban Meyer’s going through. Honestly, I would go with J.T. (Barrett). He had a lot of success and stepped up to the plate last year. So did Cardale (Jones), but Cardale had to do it for four games and J.T. did it the whole season. I would definitely put my trust into J.T.
Q: On what he does for fun:
Russell: I’ve been doing everything. I was just up at the driving range the other night. I sucked, but I was there. I took a helicopter ride over the city like two days ago. And I’m a FIFA fan, so I like to get a few people over and play (the) FIFA (video game).