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Nick Young And 'Swaggy P' Arrive Back In LA

Andrew Seah |
October 2, 2013 | 2:28 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Nick Young is back in LA, and cheering on his alma mater is a priority. (Andrew Seah/Neon Tommy)
Nick Young is back in LA, and cheering on his alma mater is a priority. (Andrew Seah/Neon Tommy)
His trigger-happy game never goes unnoticed on the court, and judging from his team's media day this past weekend, new Laker Nick Young is as comfortable with the press as he is pulling up on a dime.

While some of his teammates were stoic and stiff to the press, the former Trojan was casual and relaxed. And as journalists flocked to his more prominent teammates - ahem, Mr. Bryant – and coaches, Young did his own thing. He walked around and cracked jokes. He was smiling, laughing and actually looked like he wasn't waiting for the charade to end. His shoulders hung loose and he looked every bit the guy who posts Instagram videos of his virtual self in NBA 2K14. He was channeling “Swaggy P” - a nickname he so affectionately coined himself.  

Media day had just begun and camera shutters filled the silence whenever coach Mike D’Antoni paused to gather his thoughts, while a huge media scrum engulfed him as he talked. Not far behind, Young stood around casually. For the second time in his seven-year professional career, the California-born Young is back at home - and it looked like it. 

"It feels great being back home in LA,” the 28-year-old said, “I finally get to see SC teams play some time."

Even though he left for the NBA Draft in 2007, Young still bleeds Cardinal and Gold and isn't afraid to show it. He has been in contact with the Trojans' basketball team and feels optimistic about their chances this year.

"I worked out with the guys in the (basketball) team this summer," Young said. "I got a chance to see their style of play, who's going to be on the team and talked to the coach too. They should be better than last year with the players they got. Just look out." 

The practice courts at the Toyota Sports Center - the Lakers' training facility - looked nothing like they should. They were divided into sections for media, each denoted by huge black curtains that stretched halfway up the ceiling, cordoning off areas for photoshoots, radio interviews and what seemed like an endless list of obligatory tasks for players. 

Young and his fellow teammates were constantly ushered to and fro, out from one black curtain and into another. Some, like Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, moved in concordance, swiftly and without interference, leaving the trail of media behind them. Young is different. He looks like he enjoys talking to the media. He emerges from the curtains and hangs around, standing alone for the briefest of moments before a reporter or two swoops in - much to the chagrin of PR representatives. On one occasion, he had to be physically guided, by the hand and amidst half-hearted protests, towards his next photoshoot.

And whenever he crossed paths with his longtime buddy, Jordan Farmar, they would briefly lock horns rather than exchange pleasantries. It's a spirited dynamic bordering on feisty, a glimpse of their long-running friendship that harkens back to their days as travel-ball teammates. Both went to high school in San Fernando Valley; Young played for Cleveland High School while Farmar transferred to Taft High School in his sophomore year. Farmar is also a Bruin, which makes it easier to understand their constant one-upmanship. 

To say that the USC-UCLA rivalry between the two is strong would be an understatement. They have already lined up a series of bets when their alma maters meet. According to the former Trojan, they are betting on "football, basketball and maybe even volleyball." 

Young, in classic Young fashion, is supremely confident. "It's really not a match for us this year in football or basketball. We're gonna kill 'em,” he said. 

Some players in the NBA shy away from the media. Nick Young is not one of them. (Andrew Seah/Neon Tommy)
Some players in the NBA shy away from the media. Nick Young is not one of them. (Andrew Seah/Neon Tommy)
Their competition extends on the court as well, where they've been going at it over summer. Farmar says they haven't played much 1-on-1, but claims to be the better sharpshooter. "I beat him in all the shooting games," the former UCLA star said.

"Always. Ask him man. Always," he added. 

When I relayed the message, Young's expression barely changed. At this point, their exchanges almost feel rehearsed, like that of a married couple's. He simply said, "If you go look at the board other there, you're gonna see who's name it is at the top. As long as Jordan knows deep down what happened."

And although the 6-foot-3 shooting guard is easy-going with his laid-back demeanor, he had more choice words for USC basketball's newly hired coach, Andy Enfield. 

"He tried to take my name 'Swaggy P'. He has the utmost confidence and he walks in with that… swag y'know," said Young. It is here where Young tries to re-enact his gait, dropping his shoulders and swaying his arms back and forth to convey that elusive 'swag.' 

"Does he have more swag than you?", I ask. He flashes a grin and pauses. 

It was a rhetorical question. 

Young's moniker is sacred, and he reassures me that Enfield was simply "giving me (Young) a run for my (his) money."

It was nearing the end of media day, and Young had one more media pit stop before heading back into the locker room. He had just finished an interview with ESPN, in which he made his interviewer burst into laughter several times. I snuck in with one last question before he was whisked away. 

Last week, Rajon Rondo had held an impromptu Q&A session on Twitter with his fans. The Boston Celtics point guard answered a variety of questions ranging from light-hearted queries (his favorite TV show) to more serious discussions ("Tacos or nachos?!"). Will we see something similar from the social media enthusiast? 

"Yeah, yeah, I'm gonna get a chance to talk to everybody and ask questions and answer questions. I'm waiting on that day, probably sometime next week," said Young. 

Upon request, he then sportingly posed for a photo, replete with the Trojan's trademark 'Fight On' sign and his cheeky grin. 

The Lakers may have lost Dwight Howard's this summer, but their new recruit brings the same goofiness and personality with none of the media circus. 

As always, Swaggy P does as Swaggy P does.  

Reach Staff Writer Andrew Seah here



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