Nick Young: Lakers Trying to Be 'Player Haters of the Year'

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 23: Nick Young #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during a game against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center on March 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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If you can't join them, beat them.

Destroy them.

That's essentially the new mantra of Los Angeles Lakers chucker Nick Young, who, per Lakers.com's Mike Trudell, is imploring his teammates to play villainous basketball to close out the season:

I'll say this: Swaggy P has spirit.

Bleacher Report photo-shop

And a wicked-awesome haircut.

But mostly the spirit thing.

At 24-46, the injury-depleted Lakers have nothing tangible to play for—unless you consider tanking for Dante Exum in front of Dante Exum something to play for. 

Instead of falling into an incurably listless, spiritless state, though, Young is manipulating Los Angeles' collective morale and sense of purpose through the magic of evil-doing.

With so many teams hoping to secure a playoff spot between now and season's end, the Lakers have an opportunity to play unabashed spoiler. If they're going down, they have the option of bringing a few playoff hopefuls with them.

Swaggy P's reign of dream-dismantling terror began Tuesday against the New York Knicks. After falling behind by eight points in the first quarter, the Lakers came storming back, taking an eight-point lead into halftime before blowing the game wide open with a franchise-best 51-point third quarter.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers had embarrassed the Knicks, winning 127-96, putting New York's already dwindling playoff hopes on life support.

"We hit shots all over the place," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said afterward, per the Associated Press (via USA Today). "It's infectious."

Remaining Lakers opponents better hope that's not true.

The Lakers have 12 games remaining this season, a final stretch that includes matchups against the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs, all of whom are battling for a playoff spot and/or specific postseason seeding.

If Young has his way, a few of those should-be losses will be surprising victories.

If Young has his way, the Lakers will be "player haters of the year," turning situation-specific playoff hopes into damaged goods.