Q+A: Nick Young
Los Angeles native Nick Young returns home. And lands with the Clippers.
Welcome back. It was like you never left.
Born and bred right here in Southern California, Nick Young recently made a return to his old stomping grounds when he was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers from the Washington Wizards right before the NBA trade deadline. SLAMonline, in fact, was in the house at Staples Center for his debut around this time last weekend against the Detroit Pistons.
Before we talk with him about his future in the Golden State, perhaps it’s best to reflect on Young’s path leading up to this point. His roots, if you will.
Young played high school ball at Cleveland in Reseda, located in the San Fernando Valley about a 45-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles, depending on traffic. Back in the day, he went toe-to-toe with the New Jersey Nets‘ Jordan Farmar, who attended nearby Woodland Hills Taft. Unsurprisingly, their one-on-one battles are still talked about today.
College life was the next order of business for Young. With plenty of options, he stayed close to home, of course, and attended USC. After his junior year, he opted for the 2007 NBA Draft and was selected in the first round by the Wizards, the 16th overall pick.
A four-plus year stint followed for Young on the East Coast. That is, until the Clippers made the call and requested his services for this season’s stretch run.
We had the chance to chat with Young in the Staples Center corridor after he finished up with his pre-game routine before the game against the Pistons. He was more than happy to spend some one-on-one time and talk about being back in his element. Next thing you know, there was throng of reporters standing around us. Nevertheless, we got tons of good stuff for this Q+A.
SLAM: Whispers started to circulate about the possibility of you heading home and playing for the Clippers, what was going through your head during that time?
Nick Young: I didn’t believe it at first.
SLAM: What happened next, who broke the good news?
NY: My agent called my mom and dad first. Then they called me, started to blow up my phone, they were screaming and happy. I knew it was a done deal.
SLAM: Your initial thoughts about “Going back to Cali,” like LL Cool J once said and rhymed, for that matter, in his cut from the late 1980s?
NY: That’s a good song. I need to listen to that one again. I think, it’s a real cool thing to be back home. I was born and raised out here. All of family is around. Growing up, you always want to play for one of your hometown teams. I get to do that now with the Clippers.
SLAM: You go from a team with no Playoff hopes, to a squad in the midst of a post-season push in the Western Conference. What’s that like?
NY: Being here with the Clippers, this my first day, it’s a different kind of feeling in the locker room, most definitely. Didn’t think I’d be in the Playoffs this year, so I’ve had to adjust my mindset. That’s a good thing. When you go to a winning atmosphere, you have to bring your A-game every night.
NY: Big things. My shot is going to come if I make sure to stay in flow of game. I don’t think it will take me long to get adjusted.
SLAM: How many people have hit you up for Clippers tickets already?
NY: A lot. You want to say yes to everyone. Sometimes, it’s tough.
SLAM: Ever talk with anyone from your past? How about your high school coach at Cleveland, Andre Chevalier, and his assistant, Jack Pollon? Know you were tight with those guys.
NY: They were one of the first to say congratulations. That was cool. They both helped me get to this point. It doesn’t matter where you go in life, never forget where you came from.
SLAM: What about USC, have you been contact with your people from over there?
NY: A couple of people reached out to me. It’s like a family. Once a Trojan, always a Trojan.
SLAM: What’s next for Nick Young?
NY: Hopefully, the Playoffs. Anything less is a disappointment. I think that’s why the Clippers brought me here, to help out, maybe help get this team over hump. I like the direction we’re heading. I’m happy to be here. Happy to be home.