While the infamous "Swaggy P" has made a name for himself as a laid-back character, the Lakers guard was fouled hard by rookie Alex Len on Wednesday night and came away upset about the flagrant foul. Young had been trying to get down the court for a transition bucket, but Len, not wanting to give up a dunk, whacked the guard on the head and slammed him to the ground.
Instead of cooling down and going immediately to the free-throw line, Young jumped to his feet and shoved Len. The entire situation took place in front of three other Phoenix Suns players, who came to Len's defense. In his haste, "Swaggy P" took a swing at Goran Dragic and was ejected from the game.
Here's a video of the incident from YouTube:
Following the game, Young was apparently fired up that his teammates didn't come to his defense. As Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times tweeted, Young felt he was outmatched without his teammates:
Nick Young says he's disappointed his teammates didn't back him up. Said he was "one on five" out there.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 16, 2014
Robert Horry, the announcer on the Time Warner Cable SportsNet broadcast of the game, agreed with Young's view, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:
That happened to me in college and my teammates weren’t there for me. Especially Kelly. You are right there. And those guys start pushing your teammate and you don’t push those guys back, you sit there and you watch.
While Young and Horry felt that Kelly and others should have stood up for their teammate, they gave pretty good reasons in their defense, according to tweets from McMenamin and Mike Trudell of Time Warner Cable:
Mike D'Antoni brushed off Nick Young's claim that more Lakers should have come to his side, saying that L.A. didn't more guys ejected— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 16, 2014
Marshall on all the action starting w/Len's foul on Young: "We got 7 guys, so maybe at that time you just have to chill out."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 16, 2014
More Kendall Marshall on Nick Young's claim that nobody backed him up: "Nick kind of saw what he wanted to see at the time"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 16, 2014
OK, first thing's first. After attending several games in which both Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall have played in at Duke and North Carolina, respectively, I've been a first-hand witness to the fact that neither player is ever going to be the toughest guy on the court.
Let's also closer examine the two players who Young is putting the onus on here. Kelly is an NBA rookie playing in the 16th game of his pro career. Marshall, on the other hand, is technically in his second year in the NBA, but has been fighting for a roster spot ever since being demoted to the D-League last season.
Neither player has the stability at the NBA level to afford a possible ejection. Instead, what Kelly attempted to do was stop anything from happening in the first place. Before the first shove or punch was thrown, Kelly actually puts himself in front of Young, but is ignored.
Nick got fouled pretty hard, fell on the floor and he was upset about the foul and I think everybody would have been. Unfortunately, we didn't get a guy in between Nick and the three or four guys that were going at him, so I think that was the first mistake or slow reaction on our part. We should have protected Nick there because he had, like I said, a couple guys just pushing him and shoving him.
I wish I could have just got off the bench and just grabbed Nick. I think that could be allowed. You just go off the bench and you don't try to touch anybody else but your own teammate and you just pull him aside so he doesn't get into trouble. I think that would be a good rule.
Should Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly have defended Nick Young?
The main issue with this situation was that if a player like Gasol was on the court, he would have reacted quickly and calmed Young down before things got out of hand. But he wasn't. Instead, Kelly was the one who tried to react quickly in a situation he hasn't been in at the NBA level.
Don't get me wrong, players need to stand up for their own if they feel the situation calls for it. But there is truly no reason for Young to be upset with his teammates after blatantly ignoring Kelly, who was trying to prevent the situation from escalating, especially when Kelly is a rookie in the middle of four white jerseys.
Then there's the simple fact that the Lakers are shorthanded. Here's the list of players the Lakers were without on Wednesday night: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar.
Going against a tough Phoenix team, the last thing L.A. needed was another player like Marshall (10 points, 13 assists) or Kelly (nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks) back in the locker room as well before the game was over.
Whether or not Young feels that he was not defended by his teammates, the points brought up by both his coach and other players on the court offer good reason for the way they reacted.
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