Nick Young Feels Right At Home In Tinseltown

A chance to play under the Hollywood lights has led to one of the best years in L.A. Lakers shooting guard Nick Young’s career, filled with celebrity sightings, red carpets and great gameplay. However, even those living the highlife can’t help but sweat a little when the spotlight suddenly shines on them—and he knows it.

Beginning his career with the Washington Wizards and later moving onto the Clippers and 76ers, Young’s opportunity to play for the Lakers may seem like his first official brush with major star power. However, Young, a Los Angeles native whose cousin is rapper Kendrick Lamar, is right at home in the limelight along with the rest of his high-profile teammates, including Kobe Bryant.

“Oh man, Hollywood, that’s me! I love it, I love it, I love it,” laughs Young. “That’s my cup of tea, I love the red carpets, I love the Hollywood life, that’s a part of being in L.A. You see the Rhiannas and the Beyonces at courtside and all that, so it’s been fun.”

Number zero also fits in thanks to his great sense of style, which is best described as a bit of street with a dash of L.A. hipster. He was named Kicks on Court Champion by Nice Kicks, and counts Kanye and Pharrell among his style influences, according to Complex. His fearlessness and penchant for wild prints has made him a bit of a staple in off-court fashion roundups, as well as someone new players look up to when they’re picking out their threads.

“They don’t really have style [in the league], I tell all the young boys coming up to get slimmer, lose the baggy clothes and all that stuff. There’s really nothing that can be done for the vets, they’re too stuck in their ways now,” says Young in an interview with Edge Magazine.

Remarkably, despite looking the part, he seems to have been spared Hollywood’s habit for inflating egos to monstrous proportions. In fact, Swaggy P has gone the opposite direction since entering the team’s rotation.

Young has recently distanced himself from his days of being a hot-headed, offence-first shooter, instead thriving under the wings of polished professionals such as Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, as well as Kobe Bryant, who has been a “great mentor to him.” Sure, he still leads his team in shot attempts and assists—some things may never change—but he has become more of a team player and upped his defence. In effect, he has become a model Laker.

Even a year later, the thrill of rubbing shoulders with big shots hasn’t quite yet worn off for the 28-year-old. Young agrees that the Lakers have always had a larger-than-life aura in his eyes, but nothing could have prepared him for the reality. When the Lakers touched down at a Chinese airport, authorities shut it down. That’s when he was struck by the weight of his team’s fame.

“Oh man, it was more than shut down,” exclaims Young. “It was like 500 people at the airport waiting and chanting ‘Kobe Bryant.’ That’s the first time I really realized that Kobe Bryant is… one of the greatest players to play the game, how he has an effect on people and how his fans were crying, all teary-eyed. He was Michael Jackson up there!”

But fame always comes at a price and, in his case, Young understands that it can put a lot of pressure on a player—enough to make them crack.

“Some people ain’t built for that. L.A. brings a lot of pressure—you gotta hear the fans, the media. But you have to be prepared for everything, there’s more to it than the Hollywood life. If you ain’t doin’ what you’re supposed to do, they’ll kill ya, eat you up and spit you out,” he says, his mood suddenly sober as he recalls Dwight Howard’s less-than-graceful exit from the Lakers last summer. “Some people aren’t ready for it… it was a lot of pressure for him being here, and it showed. You gotta really think before you come here.”


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