Nick Young first arrived in Philly to rain and 60-degree weather, wearing a Dodgers t-shirt, a blue and white L.A. hat, and some Chuck Taylors, ready to go get his first real cheesesteak with his new teammates. It’s not In-and-Out but it’ll do.
“They were like what are you wearing?” Young remembers, laughing. “But that’s where I come from. I rep L.A. all day no matter what I’m doing, or where I am.”
After moving on from his hometown Clippers to the Sixers this offseason, Young has to adjust to a new system on the court with a new group of guys, including learning how to maintain a scorer’s mentality on the wing while playing alongside a dominant big man (Andrew Bynum, assuming he’s healthy) for the first time in his career. He also has to adjust to a new city without leaving too much of his L.A.-based identity behind.
Though Young, known as “Swaggy P” to his fans, is no stranger to the East Coast after spending his first five years in the league with the Washington Wizards, his “Socal” vibe clashed with Philly’s funk early on.
“Philly has its own swag,” he says. “You know someone’s from Philly when you see them. They all got the long beards like the rapper Freeway, the jackets, the Timberland boots. It’s a big difference from L.A.
“We don’t really have real seasons back home. It’s always so hot. Here you’re more limited in what you wear because of the weather but I’m getting used to wearing all different kinds of layers, though. I kind of like it.”
Young isn’t repping by himself. He’s joined by two other Cali-bred teammates in Jrue Holiday and Dorell Wright.
As much as Young is making efforts to call the City of Brotherly Love home, he can’t help but reflect on his short stay in L.A. with the Clippers, a move he originally called “a dream come true.” The dream, a tease, faded just as quickly as it arrived. Just as he was starting to feel comfortable again – like in his college days at USC – he had to pack his bags again.
“You know Philly’s alright. It’s not L.A., but it’ll work,” he says. “I’m not going to lie, I miss being home. I already knew what it was like to be traded, so it wasn’t that. I just had a long time to be out in L.A. with the Clippers, my family and friends, all the people I grew up with, for almost a year because of the lockout. Then I got traded again [Eds. note – he technically signed in Philly] and had to leave. It was tough.”
[RELATED: Andrew Bynum Is Going To Blow Up In Philly]
Young is grateful for the opportunity to be on one of the Eastern Conference’s up-and-coming teams, even if it means only coming home for a few games in the year. With all the attention the West is receiving with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on the Lakers, he thinks Philly will surprise some people.
“That’s what we like to do. We like to be the underdogs,” Young says. “People are sleeping on us, not paying us the attention we feel they should. We have so many good players on this team. We’re just going to stay focused on winning games and we might just be where we want to be.”
Bynum’s knees are a concern, but the big man is expected to change the franchise. Evan Turner is expected to play an even bigger role this year, as he and Young will look to light it up on the perimeter to replace the athletic and dynamic scorer Andre Iguodala. Holiday will also fit nicely at the point, as he averaged six assists per game in the preseason, while Young added 15 points a game.
Young is one of the most underrated scorers in the league, largely because he lets the game come to him. Despite averaging 51 percent from beyond the arc in last year’s postseason with the Clippers, he’s not in-your-face; he doesn’t try to do too much. Yet he always makes a statement with a three here or there to remind people that closing out on him is mandatory. He’s mellow, yet confident, always smiling. He can be reserved but commands your attention, just like his persona and style off the court.
He won’t wear ruby red glasses like Russell Westbrook (despite some of the vibrant colored shirts he’s been known to wear), or try to revolutionize a style like the former Sixer before him, Allen Iverson. But Young was at the forefront of trendsetting before the rest of the league started turning playoff postgame conferences into fashion shows.
“I’m not trying to be anybody else with my style,” he says. “I have an L.A. mixed with the Valley kind of swag. That’s just me, man.
“Don’t think I don’t notice what other players are doing though. I know some people have been trying to steal my style. I don’t get too much credit for that. It’s all love though,” he says, laughing.
“I’m just glad the Dime family sees that. Ya’ll have my back.”
Will Young be a consistent scorer for Philly this season?
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