Nick Young is finally back to having fun after two years of playing bad basketball under former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott. Young struggles were so prevalent that most expected the Lakers to waive him this past season, which would have amounted to paying him to not play basketball for them.
Instead, Young was given another chance, and it paid off. Not only did he manage to stick with the team, but he earned himself a starting spot thanks to his improved defense and career-high shooting from three. New head coach Luke Walton deserves plenty of credit for connecting with Young in a way that Scott never could, and Young’s invitation to participate in the three-point contest during All-Star Weekend is an acknowledgment of how drastic the difference has been.
As good as things have been going for Young, he couldn’t resist getting in a little dig at his former coach (via Mark Medina of the Orange County Register):
When the NBA hosts its 3-point shooting contest as part of All-Star Weekend on Saturday at Smoothie King Center, Young will become the third Lakers player to participate in the event after Byron Scott (1987, 1988) and Michael Cooper (1987). Young didn’t miss an opportunity to take a jab at the former Lakers coach, who he frequently clashed with over playing time and public criticisms.
“I might pick Cooper’s brain,” Young said of his contest preparation. “But I don’t know if Byron would tell me the right thing to do.”
Young’s fun-loving style never meshed well with the old-school Scott, and it’s no surprise that there would still be some lingering resentment after two seasons spent in the doghouse.
Now, thanks to his perseverance and hard work, Young has set himself up nicely to cash-in on his success by becoming a free agent this summer. As fun as verbal digs may be, in the end, cold hard cash will be his sweetest revenge.