June 1, 1985. A date that should be forever engrained in history. No, I’m not referring to the death of Richard Greene, the beloved English composer and actor. No, I’m not referring to “Weird Al” Yankovich releasing Dare To Be Stupid, nor am I referring to country singer Merle Haggard marrying his fourth wife.
I’m referring to the birth of one of modern basketball’s swaggiest stars, Nick Young.
Young, the self-proclaimed “Swaggy P” turned “Swag Champ,” began his illustrious basketball career at Cleveland High School in the suburban Reseda, Calif. in Los Angeles. In his senior campaign in 2004, he averaged 27.2 points and 10.8 rebounds good for CIF L.A. City Section, Los Angeles Times All-City and San Fernando Valley first team honors.
He would continue on to play at the University of Southern California from 2004 to 2007 and received All-Pac-10 First Team honors in the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. He had collegiate career averages of 15.5 points per game shooting a 36.8 percent clip from three-point range.
After foregoing his senior season with the Trojans, Young was selected 16th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. He would spend four and a half years there before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2011-12 season. In free agency at the end of the year, he reupped on a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76’ers.
Young then made the move back home to Los Angeles again, this time for a longer tenure. He signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on yet another one-year deal and evolved into a productive piece for the Lake Show. He re-signed on a four-year, $21.5 million contract to begin the 2014-15 season.
However, it was Young’s time with the Lakers where he morphed into “Swaggy P.” His presence in and out of the locker room helped build and bond the young core that continued after his departure.
That 2013-14 season, the one where he seemingly made his most famous headlines off the court, was statistically his best season on it to date. He averaged a career-best 17.9 points per game converting 38.6 percent from deep. Plus, he only started nine games for the Lakers that season; finishing in a tie for eighth place in Sixth Man of the Year voting.
However, Young would stagnate. His production diminished, averaging 13.4 points per game in the following season, and a mere 7.3 the season after. In 2016 Young became disgruntled on the Lakers after beefing with rookie D’Angelo Russel after being exposed for cheating on his spouse at the time Iggy Azalea.
Russel apologized and the two seemed to squash their beef. Young was inevitable able to pick his play back up in the 2016-17 season, his final year under contract with the Lakers contributing 13.2 points per game.
He decided not to exercise the player option on his contract and hit unrestricted free agency having never played a postseason game in a Lakers uniform, arguably the team that revitalized his career.
32 years old, no ring, having played in a Western Conference that has featured the growth of arguably the best team in NBA history in the Golden State Warriors. You know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Young signed a minimum deal with the defending NBA Champion Warriors. As a benchwarmer for the best team in the Bay Area, Young averaged 7.3 points per game. But more importantly, Young rekindled his relationship with former Wizard Javale McGee. Young and McGee might have the title for goofiest duo in the NBA, and their “Shaqtin’ A Fool” highlight reel is off the charts.
Young would lead–or rather be lead–to the NBA Finals this year where the Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games. Swaggy P, or rather Swag Champ as he goes by now receives his first ring in his 11-year professional career.
In 20 games played throughout these past playoffs, Swag Champ put up 2.6 points in 10.3 minutes per game. But who needs to put up numbers when you have moves like his on the court?