SAN FRANCISCO -- D'Angelo Russell stood alongside a makeshift stage Wednesday afternoon as a man with great financial comfort.
Though just 23 years old, Russell -- who signed a four-year, $117 million contract with the Warriors in July -- is much more secure than the average American. However, his adjustment to life off the court is still in progress. His first three NBA homes -- Brooklyn, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- offer some of the most prized real estate in the world. A native of reasonably-priced Louisville, Russell was caught off guard.
"When I got to LA, I didn't know what expensive was," Russell admitted during Wednesday's "Chase Chat." Then, I got to Brooklyn and I got another taste of expensive. Then I came here, and it was on steroids."
For much of his career, Russell, like many athletes, has tried to resist the perils of financial irresponsibility. Now as he enters his first season in Golden State, he's simultaneously attempting to maintain his financial stability while also advancing his play on the court.
Russell's first step to achieving that goal was in a crowded room in the newest Chase Bank branch adjacent to San Francisco's Chase Center. As Russell spoke, the purpose of his presence became clear. Across sports, the lack of financial literacy is apparent. In the NBA, more than 60 percent of players go broke within five years of departing the league. In the NFL, basketball's biggest competitor, the number has ballooned to 78 percent within two years. Athletes like Andre Rison, JR Rider and Mike Tyson have shed light on the problem. To combat the epidemic, Russell said his family enlisted a financial advisor to keep a close eye on his money.
Over his four-year career, Russell has learned a lot of lessons. During his two seasons with the Lakers, he played alongside Kobe Bryant, videotaped a teammate admitting to infidelity and battled accusations of immaturity. For Russell, who never lived permanently in a city with a population of over 900,000, the adjustment to the City of Angels was rough.
"I knew nothing about the West Coast, growing up in Kentucky," Russell told the crowd. "I knew about the Lakers but I had no idea what Los Angeles, California was."
Following his stint with the Lakers, Russell was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, where he steadily improved over two years, averaging 21.1 points and seven assists in 81 games in the 2018-19 season. In his best season as a pro, Russell made his first NBA All-Star team, finished second in voting for the league's Most Improved Player, and led the Nets to their first postseason appearance since 2014.
His performance also earned him the right to negotiate a max deal with the Nets, but with the team pursuing a Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving partnership, the Nets and Warriors engineered a sign-and-trade to send Russell to Golden State.
Russell joins the Warriors as they find themselves at a crossroads. Three weeks before the sign-and-trade, Klay Thompson tore his ACL, which is expected to sideline him for the season. With most of Thompson's season shelved and Durant now gone to the East, Russell's talent will be needed more than ever. So far, Russell's still been adjusting to his new team.
Off the court, he's still adjusting to his third home in five years by not seeing much of it at all.
"I don't know anything about the Bay, man," Russell admitted. "Like this is all new to me. I've been in a shell. I don't really go out, or an out to eat type of person. I have a chef so I kind of just stay in my bubble.
"But this is the place I enjoy most."
As for the room, Russell is comfortable as ever. During the Q&A portion of his panel, he easily sidesteps a question about who'd make more 3-pointers between he and Steph Curry this season. Then, without hesitation, picked Michael Jordan over LeBron James when asked which is the greatest player of all time.
"It goes back to who paved the way," Russell explained. "For him to change the game the way he did and play at that level for such a long period of time, he's the GOAT."
Naturally, the conversation veered to Jordan's recent comments that Curry isn't worthy of Hall of Fame yet, to which Russell pushed back on.
"He's a GM, right? I think it was that type of response. It's not something you can say without getting fined so it is what it is, but we all know Steph is a Hall of Fame player."
Then, after posing for a few pictures, Russell exited -- back into preparation for yet another season in a new home.