Andre Ingram always believed his call to the NBA would come. There was a time, five years ago when his first daughter was born, that Ingram wondered if life in the development league could financially support his family.
But Ingram kept plugging away, and now, after 10 years, he’s on the verge of playing for the Los Angeles Lakers after spending another season in the G League with their South Bay affiliate. The team signed the 32-year-old for their remaining two games this season, and Lakers head coach Luke Walton said the expectation is Ingram will see the court against the Houston Rockets.
He signed with the Lakers in some part due to a familiarity and prior relationship with Walton when the second-year head coach was the player development coach of the D-Fenders in 2013-14. “Andre is someone that I recommended,” Walton said at shootaround.
“We left it to Joey (Buss, South Bay Lakers president) and (South Bay general manager) Nick Mazzella, but my recommendation was we get Andre for his shooting ability and we know him, he’s familiar with the play calls.”
News of the signing was delivered to Ingram under the ruse that he was meeting with South Bay front office personnel for his exit interview. “It was pretty awesome,” Walton said of the moment.
“Everyone that’s been around the organization and knows him, knows what a great young man he is and how hard he works, how this has been a dream of his forever. I thought the way they did it was pretty cool, pretty special. It was a nice moment.”
Ingram was able to celebrate with his wife and mother over the phone. “It was all the emotions you think. It just felt great all the way around, it was a wonderful moment. They tricked me good,” he said.
“My wife was definitely screaming. My mom was there too, she was screaming. I couldn’t even hear what they were saying once I told them. It was cool. They were obviously excited. They probably let out what I truly wanted to let out.”
Ingram’s journey to the NBA is as unique and arduous as you’ll find. But he doesn’t harbor any resentment or animosity over the path traveled. “These 10 years, it’s been a joy, man. I remember it all,” Ingram said.
“Starting with Utah’s D-League team, playing with these guys when we were the D-Fenders, I remember it all. And they are fond memories. It’s a handsome reward for time put in.”
That his opportunity is coming with the Lakers, and at Staples Center, isn’t lost on the 32-year-old. However, his focus is on the court. “I’m most excited about playing, being out there and getting in the flow of a basketball game,” Ingram said.
“I am truly most excited about the actual game. The other things are nice, seeing your name on the jersey, putting it on, playing in Staples, but I’m most looking forward to just playing on the court with the guys.”