On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, but something was different. The team had a different swagger about it, and it had more to do with who was there than who was not there. Sure, Kobe Bryant was out, and the Lakers had no point guards, but Nick Young (aka “Swaggy P” or "Swaggy Rambo") was still around.
With Young leading the charge, the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-91. Young finished with 25 points and shot 9-14 from the field, but his energy on both ends of the floor rubbed off on his teammates.
Pau Gasol, who finished Friday’s game two assists shy of a triple-double, provided the highlight of the night when he hit a 3-pointer and took a three-point game and extended it to six points with four minutes remaining. The basket was important in the game story, but Gasol’s celebration following the shot was the highlight of the night.
Gasol crouched down and replicating Swaggy P’s celebration while running back on defense. Young joined in and the images went viral.
After the game, Gasol admitted that Young’s energy was rubbing off on him.
“Oh it was fun,” Young said after the game. “You see Pau (Gasol) doing the ‘Swaggy P’ out there? That’s big time. We’re just jellin’, trying to have fun.”
Gasol looked like he was having fun, and the Lakers were playing entertaining unselfish basketball. As a team, LA exemplified balance. With the absence of a point guard, the entire team stepped forward to create baskets within the offense. Led by Gasol’s eight assists, the Lakers featured five players with four or more assists. Overall, 27 of the Lakers’ 42 baskets were assisted. As a reminder, this team has three injured point guards sitting on the trainer's table alongside Bryant.
Gasol was not the only person affected by Young’s infectious personality.
After the game, Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni was asked about Young’s influence on the team, and the coach provided some rather memorable quotes.
“He rubs off on me, makes me happy—I know that,” D’Antoni started out. “He’s done it a few times. When we have shootaround and the energy is down, he feels it, and he’s ‘Swaggy’ out there. And he starts “swaggin” or something, and he starts going, and he gets everybody’s energy up.”
Young’s energy and attitude have been pleasant surprises, and D’Antoni admitted as much after the game. Defensively, Young has been well beyond everyone’s expectations, and Young once again joked about going for the Defensive Player of the Year award in the locker room.
“I could not ask for a better human being, player and teammate,” D’Antoni wrapped up his thoughts on the man they call “Swaggy P.”