Nick Young Returns to D.C., Talks Gilbert, Kobe, Boos Birds, and Lakers
Nick Young often gets lumped in with the #SoWizards trials and tribulations of knuckleheads Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. Problem is, Nick was never an asshole—the guy loves to smile, he smiles about smiling, he’s happy go-lucky—and he never got into club fights with teammates (like Blatche and McGee … with each other). Nick’s problem was that he played while wearing horse-blinders. His type of play stalled the offense and further promoted a selfish culture in down times for the Washington franchise. [EVIDENCE: Young plays shooting guard and, over his career, has averaged one (1!) assist per game.]
What are you going to do? A shooter is going to shoot … and when that shooter learns from Washington’s big top boss, Gilbert Arenas, the unfortunate results aren’t wholly outlandish. Young being lumped with ‘Dray and ‘Vale is not fair. That said, Young is now with his third NBA team since the Wizards traded him around 21 months ago in mid-March 2012, and he will be a free agent this summer… Meaning that Young could be one-and-done with his dream franchise, cast off to continue his career as a multi-team NBA vagabond after spending the first four and half years with the Wizards.
When the L.A. Lakers came to down on November 26, I caught up with Nick before the game to talk about an array of things. Let’s Q&A…
Q: What does it feel like to come back to D.C.?
Nick Young: “It feels great. Hometown team going up, I always wanted to play for the Lakers. I remember when I played here (Washington), I used to look forward to playing against them.”
Q: When you think about your time in Washington, do you get fuzzy … good memories, or do you feel unsatisfied about what went down during your time as a Wizard?
NY: “A little bit of both, you know. Now I’m past all that now. I’m over it all and off enjoying this life I got right now in L.A.”
Q: You became a father recently (of a baby boy), what type of effect did that have on your life? How did Nick Young change?
NY: “Just find myself being a real dad, going to the park and stuff and talking to other dads, strangers, you know? That’s probably just the biggest thing. And just trying to teach him to talk and all that.”
Q: What’s the biggest challenge?
NY: “Just patience. They don’t listen to us much … telling him to come here, running off in the streets. But it’s fun. It’s fun. I’m enjoying the little things like walking. I remember he couldn’t to that and now he’s running everywhere. He’s trying to shoot the ball and screaming every time he scores like I do.
Q: So you’re the coach now, trying to turn your little guy into a basketball player?
NY: “Yea, [I do] a little coaching. I already got him so many … you know, the little Fisher Price basketball courts. That’s all he do, either play basketball or watch Mickey Mouse.”
Q: Your boy Gilbert [Arenas] is living out in L.A. … Seems like he’s on TMZ every other week. Is TMZ looking for Gilbert or is Gilbert looking for TMZ?
NY: “Man, he’s always on TMZ talking about, was he the worst paid player and things like that, and he can beat Michael Jordan … fireworks, you know? [laughs, smiles, etc.]
“Just back home, you know. He’s still trying to work out, but I don’t know what he’s going to do right now.”
Q: The last thing I saw was Gilbert saying that he wasn’t even going to go back and play in China, much less the NBA. Do you believe him? Does he want to play more? Or is he happy with his side businesses, apps and Five Guys investments?
NY: “Yea, I think [he’s happy off the court], but I know deep down he probably wants to play, throw on a jersey. You know, you never know.
“But he said he’s going to be there for the next [Lakers] game against Washington [in Los Angeles]. For sure, he said he’s going to be in the Staples Center for that game.”
(Note: The Wizards play the Lakers in L.A. on Friday, March 21.)
Q: Now I’ve got to ask you about that one picture with Kobe. Your back was to the camera, but Kobe’s in that suit giving you a hard look from the bench. What happened there?
NY: “Yea, [I know that picture], everybody’s been talking about it. Man, it kind of caught him in the moment. You know, Kobe got that same facial expression. He was just telling me to be more aggressive out there at the time. But, it’s been funny. I’ve been seeing that everywhere… Yea, Kobe’s been good. He’s been real good.”
After the game, TAI’s John Converse Townsend caught up with Nick and asked him about the boos he received from Wizards fans, which contrasted the cheers the Lakers received from bandwagon fans on the road:
NY: “I look forward to it, you know. That’s what Washington do. They boo pretty much everybody that came back, so it’s fun. It helps being a Laker.
“I looked forward to this game. I marked it on my calendar, I’m not going to lie. I love coming back to the team that I played for and trying to get buckets on them, trying to get a win. Guess you gotta win, though.”
Just Nick Being Nick…
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) December 9, 2013
(some TAIers caption that classic, timeless photo of Nick and Kobe)
Kobe: “Take off your tattoos.”
/Kobe flattens palm of left hand, preparing for forceful slap.
Young: “What am I gonna do?”
Bryant: “Run. Run away, and never return.”
—John Converse Townsend
Young: “You going to a funeral or something?”
Kobe: “Yea, yours.” (Kobe doesn’t say another word for 30 minutes.)
Bryant: “You clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so lemme clue you in. I am the danger. I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS.”
Young: “But Kobe I love you! Wait, that came out wrong. Wait, no it didn’t.”
—John Converse Townsend
Bryant: “You know that I know where they keep the bodies buried, right?”
Young: “Um… bodies, like people?”
Bryant: “Yea, but don’t worry about that right now. By the way, wanna know my secret? It’s not blood spinning German doctors wearing latex outfits, although I do enjoy that. Do know that if you breathe into this handkerchief you can shoot like me? It’s filled with a special concoction that I like to call Chloroform.”
Young: “If you say so, Kobe.”
/Kobe then carries Young’s lifeless body in a frontal baby backpack that he’s wearing off into the night.