"I did see where my locker was and definitely knew it was Kobe's locker," Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, said with a wry smile.
On Tuesday, Ingram sat alongside Ivica Zubac, who the Lakers also selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, and answered questions. Earlier, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had presented Ingram, No. 14, and Zubac, No. 40, with their Lakers jerseys for the first time ever. Then, the skinny forward with a bright future and the towering, largely unknown center took their seats and faced a gymnasium full of camera and reporters.
"I know Mitch told me I had some big shoes to fill when I came in here, but I like it," Ingram said about taking over Kobe Bryant's locker, for starters. "I like the pressure that's on me right now, and of course it's going to motivate me to do good things on the court."
Ingram, who learned under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University, predictably drew the majority of the questions and provided all the right responses. He had played at a big program in college and been in the spotlight prior to LA selecting the 18-year-old with the no. 2 overall selection. Zubac, who grew up a die-hard fan of the Lakers and Bryant, had a far more colorful demeanor and provided all the laughs for the afternoon.
"No, he can have the pressure," Zubac said in a thick, lovable foreign accent when asked if he was jealous of Ingram taking Bryant's locker. Cameramen, reporters, executives and agents all laughed at the response.
Zubac added, "Nobody is expecting too much from me for now, but I want to prove them wrong, and I want to prove that I can help."
Both rookies had completed their first NBA Summer League practice earlier in the day, as new Lakers coach Luke Walton led his first Lakers' coaching session. Zubac and Ingram both spoke positively of their new coach, but of course they would. Tuesday was day no. 1 of their professional careers.
"Right now, I'm so happy," Zubac said. "I just want to continue to work hard, and prove myself and prove to coach that he can count on me."
Attempting to put his joyous feelings into comprehensible words, in his second language, Zubac concluded, "I have not realized that I'm with the Lakers, so when I realize that, I will tell you."
Ivica Zubac's contract with the Lakers will be a three-year deal, with two years guaranteed. — Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 5, 2016
On Tuesday, both Zubac and Ingram got their jerseys, took part in a photo shoot, went through practice in El Segundo and answered a litany of questions from the LA media. Both survived. Whether or not they fully realize it, Ingram and Zubac are Lakers now.