Hey, Nick Young, This Isn't The Lakers' Way


By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

Kobe Bryant was outraged. Byron Scott was outraged. Mitch Chortkoff was outraged.

How can a mere sportswriter include himself on a list of competitors outraged by the antics of three Lakers – Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer who thought they were being clever in clowning while a teammate was being interviewed on television after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in overtime last week?

Well, you see, this sportswriter traveled with Laker teams for 22 years and learned a lot about professionalism.

Bryant has taken his profession seriously during the 19 years he’s played here. You play hard to defeat an opponent, then win or lose you shake hands.

You don’t make fun of them. You don’t humiliate them.

I named three players but I have no doubt Young was the ringleader. His wacky ways have bothered me all season.

His swaggy P routine gets old when you see that the Lakers are heading for their worst record in club history.

He’s calling attention to himself as the team flounders.

“We don’t do this,” Scott says. “There’s a Laker way to do things and this isn’t it.”

I know where Young is coming from. He’s proud to be the life of the party and maybe that can be good when teammates are taking losses so hard, even sulking. But with every loss his act seems more and more out of place.

I’ve seen him joke with Hill in the locker room after defeats and the media observes it. Once again, that’s not the Lakers’ way.

I haven’t written about this earlier in the season because there’s always something else that’s topical to write in a sports column in L.A.

But when Bryant and Scott reacted I felt it was time for me to speak out too.

Bryant saw the clowning shown on the Jimmy Kimmel TV show the next night and merely stared at the screen in silence.

In past years a player who stepped out of line in this way would have been confronted by Kobe, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West or a half dozen other Laker greats.

Young is lucky he didn’t act this way when Lou Mohs, the crusty general manager of the Lakers when the team moved to L.A. from Minneapolis was in control of the franchise. Young may have been released the next day.

Unfortunately, there’s no player other than Bryant on this Laker team with the experience or clout to set a wayward teammate straight.

In the front office there’s no longer Jerry Buss. And Jim Buss wasn’t around the team very much during the glory years as Magic Johnson frequently points out.

I suppose that filling the roster with so many young players who don’t have Laker training in past years is a strategy to save money for free agent players thus summer.

Maybe that will work and maybe not since the team with 16 NBA championships has sunk so low.

While improving their roster next season, something the Lakers must do, they also should look hard at the character of the players they’re bringing in. And before the season starts the new ones should be required to take a course in what is expected of a Laker.


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