The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves in an awkward situation after taking Larry Nance Jr. with the No.27 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. The forward from Wyoming is set to play alongside Kobe Bryant, to whom he directed a scathing tweet in 2012.
The tweet was deleted shortly after Nance was selected, but it’s made its way around the Internet. Nance made a joke about Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case in Colorado, which was dropped, though a civil lawsuit was eventually settled out of court.
Seems the Lakers' new draft pick just deleted this old tweet from 2012. Probably a good idea. pic.twitter.com/kC33QuIvPL
â€” Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) June 26, 2015
Nance is 22 years old, and he was just about to conclude his freshman year when he made the tweet. Bryant, who is among the most valued players in franchise history, had just scored 38 points in a first-round NBA playoff win, and the Lakers were headed to Denver for Game 3 of their series with the Nuggets.
It’s unknown whether or not the Lakers were aware of the tweet before making the selection.
"I've spoken to Larry Nance Jr. with John Black, our public relations director," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday night. "Really, I'm not in a position to really share information. But it is something that they will have to discuss amongst the two of them.
"My understanding is that it's something that happened years ago, and in today's world, things don't go away, which really doesn't make it any less offensive because it was said three, four years ago."
Even if the tweet had never been discovered, the selection might still be considered a puzzling pick. For much of the time leading up to the draft, Nance was projected to be a second-round pick by most experts, with ESPN’s Chad Ford predicting him to go No.43 to the Indiana Pacers. Nance did appear to impress some general managers with his maturity in a draft that was dominated by underclassmen.
Nance averaged 16.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last year, playing all four years at Wisconsin. He’s the son of Larry Nance Sr., who played in the NBA from 1981-1994, spending time with the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Earlier in the night, the Lakers took Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell with the No.2 overall pick, passing on Duke big man Jahlil Okafor. In the second round, the Lakers selected swingman Anthony Brown of Stanford with the No. 34 pick.