The fan favorite and one of the few saving graces of last year’s tough season was Nick Young. Swaggy P, as he became affectionately known as, came to L.A. on the veteran’s minimum, looking to prove himself in his hometown. The evidence that he did, in fact, prove himself is in his new contract: four years, $21.5 million.
However, despite being the face of last year’s team, the current face of the franchise in Kobe Bryant let him know that it was time to work.
Before Young could become too giddy about staying in his hometown, he received an important phone call from Kobe Bryant. The message went beyond congratulating Young, a former Cleveland Reseda High and USC standout, on staying in his hometown.
“He was the first person to call me. He was telling me to get in the gym and work hard,” Young recalled. “They’re already counting us out.”
Only months removed from arguably the worst season in franchise history, Young and Bryant will be two of the leaders of the squad. With Bryant out last season, Young stepped up as the leader of a young Lakers team in search of one. Now, with Bryant back, the duo have their work cut out for them.
But the message from the ever-intense Bryant may have worked. According to Swaggy, in the same article, he admitted to Bryant’s message having an effect.
“Kobe puts more pressure on me,” said Young, who has frequently played in Drew League games this summer. “Ever since he gave me that phone call, I’ve been in the gym every day.”
They may not look like any sort of favorites now, but don’t count out these Lakers just yet.