Kobe Bryant is the toast of the town in Toronto this weekend, but playing with Bryant isn't always a joy for everyone. Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson is in only his second season in the league, but the 23-year-old already looks out for his younger teammates as if he were a 10-year veteran.
"Honestly, it's hard. It's not easy", Russell said of playing with Bryant. While keeping such talented, youthful players on the roster is the sensible move regardless, it's a much more effective strategy to help rebuild the team if those players are getting the minutes and coaching needed to properly progress.
In transcribing some or Russell's comments, the Los Angeles Daily News included some background information, reporting that Bryant singled out Russell and power forward Julius Russell in a team tongue-lashing after a loss to Portland last month.
The Lakers are 11-44 and fighting the Philadelphia 76ers for the worst record in the NBA. He's also come under fire from Bryant at times as well.
According to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, the Lakers don't consider Russell, Randle, Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. "It's not something you (can) really get too high or too low on. Game days he's so focused you can't really knock him off, distract him or anything like that", Russell said.
If Russell were frustrated with his role, it would be understandable.
Whatever the reason, it was funny to hear a player say something like this near a microphone-even if he didn't mean for everyone to hear him. He's deserved every bit of this farewell tour.