LOS ANGELES — I just had a dream about Swaggy P, and I'm curious what that might mean.
A little worried what that might mean, actually.
It was Labor Day morning, no less, and the guy on my mind is Nick Young? He hasn't exactly been renowned for his diligent work ethic or a substantive career, but he has worked his way into my subconscious?
What in the name of Iggy Azalea is going on here?!
For sure, Young's enjoyable presence on social media has helped keep him relevant in the offseason. Whatever the paparazzi doesn't pick up with him and hip-hop recording artist girlfriend Azalea, the self-proclaimed "Swaggy P" gets out there via Twitter and Instagram.
I suspect, however, it's more than Young's Instagram video Saturday of Azalea sinking a "Fancy" basket from behind the backboard.
Where was the video shot? At the Lakers' training facility.
Flash back to Young's Instagram post three weeks ago while getting his left arm tattooed—and memorably tweeting that his right arm remains unmarked because it's "strictly for buckets."
If you noticed, while Young was in the tattoo parlor he was wearing a Lakers tank top.
When was the last time you saw any player in any sport tooling around in the offseason wearing some non-locker-room-issued gear promoting his team?
This was not something that was handed to Young by the Lakers equipment manager that he just threw on and happened to keep on upon leaving the gym. It was a Mitchell & Ness $55 specialty item that someone had to go and get.
Yes, Young prides himself on his fashion sense, but the greater point is that he views it as cool to be representing the Lakers on his own time and on his own dime.
Lakers fans donated the money to put up the #STAYSWAG billboard, and Young tweeted his thanks for the support when he did re-sign.
You can be a cynic and believe Young selfishly wants the spotlight of being in L.A., or wonder if Young can continue to grow his game now that he has been paid.
The truth is that Young's joy of being a Laker is very real, and that kind of spirit is what all of us who follow the NBA can sentimentally long for here in the dead days of the offseason.
What the dream means, to be honest, is that I miss Swaggy P.
It's that simple. He represents what is good and fun—and currently missing while the NBA is on hiatus.
The details of the dream have gone fuzzy during the waking hours, as dreams usually do because they're not actual experienced memories, but the weird gist is Swaggy was driving some people home from Lakers practice: some fictitious training-camp invitee, two other reporters, me riding shotgun.
What I do remember vividly from the dream: the smile.
Young's easy, toothy grin—whether appearing while making some absurdly cocky statement or whimsically absorbing a joke at his expense—was the brightest spot of a 2013-14 Lakers season that cost Mike D'Antoni his sense of humor. Young smiled freely on the court while playing better than ever, but it wasn't foolishness—because it was clear in the locker room that Young cared very much about the Lakers winning or losing.
In the dream, Swaggy cared enough overall to be driving us all to our respective homes—for some reason I can't explain—and was happy to do it. He sat there confidently behind the wheel of his bandwagon like Kramer from Seinfeld driving the bus but also as the zany "Screech of Basketball." (Robert Sacre likening Young to the Saved by the Bell geek last season was legendary, though not necessarily funnier than Young's Instagram video of himself wiping out on a toboggan at the Great Wall of China: "I crashed. I crashed.")
Whether dream or reality, Young owns who he is, which is the whole key to making a big personality work in Hollywood.
And at a time when the Lakers are down, Young—especially with GQ calling him and Azalea "the NBA's coolest, freakiest young couple"—serves as a reminder that there's a cool factor to being a Laker.
Byron Scott is back, Kobe Bryant has his usual drama to play out, but Young got $21.3 million over four years because the club sees him as a true Laker, too.
As we wait for another month to elapse before training camp, it's a good time simply to recognize: Nick Young is living his dream.
Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.
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