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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021

D’Angelo Russell praises Magic Johnson as ‘one of the greatest of all time’

Magic Johnson didn’t have the kindest things to say about D’Angelo Russell after Magic traded the young guard to the Brooklyn Nets.

“D’Angelo is an excellent player … but what I needed is a leader,” Magic said.

You’d expect Russell to be hurt by that, and initially, it seemed like he was. Russell called the criticism “irrelevant.” It was a pretty shady thing to say about the 21-year-old guard, who very well could become an All-Star.

Russell, however, said he still holds Johnson in high regard.

“Magic is one of the greatest of all time,” Russell told Complex at Tuesday’s Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards in Los Angeles. “For him to say something like that, for me, is still an honor. Whatever criticism he has for me, I’m going to take it and make the best of it. I don’t look at it as a negative.”

Magic clearly thinks Lonzo Ball, whom Los Angeles selected No. 2 overall in last month’s draft, is that leader he’s looking for. Russell said he’s looking at the change of scenery as an opportunity to move on.

“Being in the situation that Brooklyn has offered me, I’m excited,” Russell said.

He added, “It’s a major learning curve, especially when you go to a new situation. I’ve never been traded before, so it’s a good opportunity for me to make the best of it. You never know what the future holds.”

Russell put up 15.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game last year for the Lakers. Magic traded Russell and Timofey Mozgov (a contract dump) for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick in the draft (Kyle Kuzma).

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