Nick Young Emerging as Key Bright Spot for LA Lakers During Uncertain Season

LOS ANGELES – This is how it was supposed to work.

Fun-loving, talented guy dogged by a reputation for not being a mature winner arrives. He energizes everyone with an irrepressible spirit and infectious smile.

And with humility and an open mind, he meaningfully improves himself by utilizing the advice of champions Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and hoping to live up to all that Los Angeles Lakers lore.

Who knew Nick Young could possibly be the man heaven-sent to Lakers fans to eradicate the Disease of Dwight?

Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni sure didn’t.

I asked D’Antoni late Friday night, straight out, if he was surprised by who Young is—this supposedly selfish gunner that D’Antoni now describes as “a joy to coach and be around.”

“Yeah, I would say so,” he said, nodding. “Yeah, it’s a great surprise, too.”

Young delivered an inspiring, enthusiastic 25-point outing Friday night in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, one day after the Lakers lost Bryant (knee) for another six weeks.

The Lakers needed a lift, and all season long, Young has been the guy to make the joke, take the ribbing or hit a shot to help everyone feel better. He has scored in double figures off the bench in 12 consecutive games.

“I could not ask for a better human being, player and teammate,” D’Antoni said about Young.

Just the kind of rave reviews D’Antoni gave Dwight Howard last season, right?

D’Antoni has tried to take the high road and not put a public label on Howard, but he added another little brick in the wall between him and Howard on Friday night. When feeling really good about the community these low-expectation Lakers have built this season, the coach can’t help letting little comments that indict Howard seep out.


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