After a year that saw him show flashes of his potential, but also saw him miss more than 30 games to injury, D’Angelo Russell is getting ready for his defining moment. No more controversy, no more health issues, DLo is in now mode.
And New Era, one of his sponsors, is ready as well, with “Path to the Cap,” a short documentary about growing up in Louisville and reaching that moment at the Draft when he put on his team’s cap, walked up on stage and shook the commissioner’s hand, “definitely a life-changing moment for me.” as he says. That first right of passage for every NBA star.
Here’s the full documentary:
At the documentary’s introduction, we sat down with DLo and his father Antonio to talk about the movie, growing up, the off-season, including what he calls “the joint” in California, and the Draft. Russell is not letting expectations get out of control, his demeanor low-key as always.
Watching your film – You were young when you moved to Florida to Montverde and then when you’re 18 years old and moving to the draft, you’re forced into adulthood a lot quicker. What was that like for you and what advice would you give to these kids now?
“Age is only a number. When you go through stuff like that it forces you to mature, you know you’re 18 or 19-years-old when you come into a grown man’s league and you’re forced to adapt to that. My advice would be to just be as prepared as you can, ask questions, if you know anybody that knows what you’ve been through just ask. Never be afraid to ask questions.”
Let’s talk about the off-season so far… How often are you in the gym, anything specific you’re working on? Talk to me…
“I try to get in as much as I can. Nothing really specific honestly just working on improving my body.”
What’s that next step for D’Angelo Russell? Is it all-star, is it leader on a playoff team… both?
“Can’t predict the future but I’m working hard to put it all together.”
That Cali trip (D’Angelo interrupts, “That team joint? Yeah, yeah!) I’d love to hear more about it, who set it up, what was it all about?
“Everybody stepped up. DeMarre (Carroll) helped set it up. Same with myself and JLin. It took a lot for guys to meet up that early. I mean, some guys just had kids and stuff like that and they still showed up. For everybody to go out there and train – and we got some good work in. For us to do that right after the season, I mean playoffs weren’t even over. That lets guys know that we’ve bought in and we’re really trying to turn this thing around.”
And you guys stay in touch in the off-season?
“Oh yeah, yeah of course.”
You know what I’m refer—
(Laughs) “Yeah, making something bigger than it needs to be.”
So you’ve been sitting in on some workouts with Sean. How often did you do this and what did you take from it?
“I like to sit in and support the organization and a lot of the guys I played with. Most of the guys I played with just graduated this year so they’re coming in and out of these workouts and I like to show face.”
Your boy from Ohio State. Keita (Bates-Diop) – Give me a little scouting report.
“He’s great. I think if he gets into the right system he’ll thrive with the way the league is changing. Small ball allows him to be more versatile and versatility is key in today’s league.”
Can he fit in Brooklyn?
“I think so. Yeah. I mean, he’s on the board but there’s a lot of teams that pick before us so…”
Antonio Russell, DLo’s dad, also talked about the movie and the decisions that led to that moment at Barclays Center three years ago this week.
Did you encourage the one and done stuff for D’Angelo?
“No (emphatically). I thought he was going to do two years or more. It was never something that came about before it happened. You know one-and-done – we’re happy he was one-and-done – but at the same time I always thought he was going to stay longer.”
When did you know D’Angelo was special?
“Special? All my kids are special. He just had a work ethic in basketball that made me believe he wasn’t going to let himself be anything less than what he is.”