The bag was quite the symbolic accessory.
D’Angelo Russell, this 27-year-old basketball vagabond who has played for five teams in his eight seasons, knows the feeling of packing up all too well. From the Los Angeles Lakers to Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Lakers again, his talent would tantalize and his feet would never quite get a chance to settle.
But on Saturday night, when his aggressive scoring set such a pivotal tone in the Lakers’ 127-97 blowout over the Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals, Russell showed off his array of skills that today’s youngsters would refer to as his “bag.”
Those three early 3s that put the Warriors on their heels. A running layup that put the Lakers up 11-4 during his one-man run fewer than four minutes in. That spinning midrange look. Two more 3s, followed by a layup on the break. And then, after his 21-point, five-assist, plus-14 outing was over and the Lakers had a 2-1 series lead, it was only fitting that Russell wore an actual bag on his hip. Yet, of all the dimes he handed out, it was the one that came after the game that spoke volumes about where he is right now.
It has been three years and three months since the Warriors landed Andrew Wiggins by way of the three-team deal that sent Russell to Minnesota, yet there’s no resentment from the way his Golden State chapter ended. The Warriors were the ones who gave Russell a four-year, $117 million deal in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade with Brooklyn, back when their then-dormant dynasty was navigating the trickiest of transition periods. And as Russell sees it, he’s better off for those 33 games he spent with those Warriors in the 2019-20 campaign.
“I learned so much from those guys,” Russell told The Athletic. “Brushing shoulders with Steph, seeing how he operates, how he moved, how he talked. Draymond (Green), seeing the way he can play defense. What everybody (there) does is special, and I got to cross paths with it. I got to see all that, and I put it all in my bag and took it with me, you know what I mean?”
With that, he looked down at his actual bag and smiled. He was very proud of the way his turn of phrase had all come together.