Interview: Nick Young Talks Style, His Cousin Kendrick Lamar and His Experience With a Fire Extinguisher

Get inside the head of the charismatic swingman.

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Complex Original

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The year 2012 has been kind to Nick Young. Last season he got traded away from the mess that is the Washington Wizards and got a homecoming with the Los Angeles Clippers. His three-point shooting was key in the Clippers advancing to second round of the playoffs. The world finally got to see his fashion sense, which is different than most players to say the least. For his sneaker game which included everything from yet-to-be-released Foamposites to the impossible to find LeBron Air Zoom Generation “First Games,” he was named Kicks on Court Champion by Nice Kicks.

Oh and the charismatic swingman got paid, too. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for a 1-year/$6 million deal. Before he makes his regular season debut with Philly tonight check out what one of the league's most charismatic figures had to say about his cousin Kendrick Lamar, his style influences, and goals for this season.

Interview by Paul Palladino

What did you work on this offseason?

I took a little yoga trying to get my body right. I didn’t know how tough it was though. All this stretching and different ways you’ve got to move your body. It’s crazy. That was about it. Just the same routine getting my shots up. Trying to get better.

By our count, you led the league in one category. What do you think it was?

My assist ratio?

You seemed to be caught sleeping on the plane more than any other player. Would you agree? You were the victim of a “Got 'Em” just about every week. So what’s with that game?

[Laughs.] I was new coming into the Clippers so I didn’t know about that whole little sleeping thing. We didn’t do that on the Wizards. They got me a couple times.

Who are some of your style influences?

For my style influences you’ve got to look at Kanye first. Pharrell when I was growing up, too. I’m still into that BBC and that Ice Cream. My style influences came from just growing up in L.A. and watching everything and the whole environment and just traveling. A$AP Rocky is pretty stylish, too. 

For my style influences you’ve got to look at Kanye first. Pharrell when I was growing up, too. I’m still into that BBC and that Ice Cream

Who are some of the other best dressed players in the NBA? Do you think that you’re the best dressed player?

I think I’m the...well, you've got some good people there. I like the way LeBron [James] dresses.

Who would be your style starting five?

I’m the shooting guard. I’d have to go with Tyson Chandler as the center. LeBron at the small forward. I’d throw Russell in as point guard. Other forward, Carmelo Anthony. Damn, that’s a nice line-up right there. [Laughs.]

Have you ever thought about designing your own clothes?

Yeah, just got to find a name that fit though, that sticks. You can have your own name on your clothing line, but people don’t really buy that. It’s going to come out pretty soon, “Swagy P Line.” [Laughs.]

You won the Nice Kicks “Kicks on Court” competition and everyone wants to know where you found the LeBron “First Games” that you wore in the playoffs.

That’s a mystery, you know? I can’t give you my hint because everybody is going try and go get them. LeBron gave them to me himself.

Oh yeah?

No. [Laughs.] I just came across them. I was like ‘Dang they our colors.’ Went and looked for them and somebody said they had them for me. 


How do you know Puerto Rican Olympic sprinter Carol Rodriguez?

I actually went to school with her at USC and we became a couple. [We've known] each other for like six, seven years now. I’m proud of her. She worked hard to get where she’s at.

Who is on your playlist right now?

I’ve been listening to A$AP, Drake, Wiz, Nipsey Hussle, Ross and Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick is my cousin. Actually, I just found out through my dad. I knew him when he was little, but I hadn’t seen him in a while and now it’s like ‘Damn, I didn’t know that’s my cousin and I ain't seen him in forever.’ That’s big time.

You tweeted about a "Swagy P mixtape" a few months ago, is that something we should be looking for?

[Laughs.] Hey, we got a little studio in the house and we be rapping a little bit just playing around. I want to make a video real soon. I might do something just to do it. There's a lot of talent all around.

Are you going to get a Kendrick Lamar feature on there?

Get Kendrick, then the whole West Coast: Jay Rock, Nipsey Hussle, everybody. [Laughs.]

Do you have any verses you want to give us a sample of?

Nah, nah, not right now.

Kendrick Lamar is my cousin. Actually, I just found out through my dad. I knew him when he was little, but I hadn’t seen him in a while.

When you do get it, you’ve got to send it to Complex first.

Most definitely. Most definitely.

What was it like getting to play for your hometown Clippers last season?

Oh man. That was crazy. Besides everybody hitting me up for tickets. It was amazing being back home, getting home cooked meals every night, playing in front of family, friends. Especially the playoffs, there’s nothing like that. My first time really experiencing that. I might miss that, but hey, they was tripping. I’m East Coast now.

What was the 27-point comeback game against the Grizzlies like?

Oh man, that was one of the best feelings I had being in the NBA. That was crazy. My brother said he changed the channel. He woke up and said ‘Y’all won?!’ A lot of people just changed the channel. Down 26 I would have changed it, too. [Laughs.]

What did you learn from the second-round series against the Spurs?

That Tim Duncan really is one of the best power forwards to play this game. I never really just paid attention to him, but at this age he is now he’s killing it. [Manu] Ginobili, all of them. I just gained a lot of respect for them and the coach. He just had them playing great ball from the rookies to Duncan, they were killing it. Nobody really watches the Spurs, but to just sit there and play against them it’s crazy. They're good, real good.


How did you end up signing with the 76ers?

Once I saw that the Clippers got Jamal Crawford I was like ‘OK, I might just head somewhere else.’ It was a situation they had to do, you know? Doug Collins talked good to me. We’ve got a good relationship. I know Jrue Holiday from L.A. I know A.I. from working out with him so it was a good look.

Have you talked to coach Collins about your role?

A little bit, but they need scoring. I just got to bring my game to the floor. Trying to get back to the playoffs because being there you got to want to keep going back. There’s nothing like it.

You’ve had a lot of charismatic, interesting teammates during you career. Tell us a bit about your former Wizards teammate JaVale McGee.

That’s my dude. JaVale’s a good dude. I’ve always been by his side and sometimes I get put in that craziness with him. He just signed a big contract, so they can’t say too much about him no more. He makes beats. Yeah, he’s a producer. Nobody really knows that. He’s got the studio and all that in his house. He’s very big on technology. They always tell me I spend my money on clothes, but he spends his money on computers and stuff.

I got stiches on my butt and I had to play the same night. [Laughs.] So, they had to pad my butt up. Oh man, that was a crazy night.

What expectations do you have for the 76ers this season?

Might win a championship. Quote me on that. We might win a championship. The way we working right now? Don’t be surprised if we put the Celtics out in the – nah I’m just playing. [Laughs.] Yeah, we gon’ be pretty good.

Blake Griffin is known to be a funny guy. Is he the funniest teammate you’ve ever had?

It’s a toss-up between him and JaVale. JaVale is funny. He’s a pretty funny dude. I know y’all seen the video and all that. All them bigs: DeAndre [Jordan], Blake [Griffin] and JaVale. We might have to give it to Blake though because he don’t do what JaVale do on the court. [Laughs.]

What was the first tattoo you got and the meaning behind it?

I got an angel over my heart when I was 18. My mom wouldn’t let me get it before. So when I turned 18, I went and got it. My brother took me. I was nervous, but that one didn’t hurt. Everyone after that one hurt, but for some reason that one didn’t. It was just like my guardian angel.

What was the most recent tattoo you got?

Right here. *Points to left forearm* In Swag We Trust. [Laughs.]

You had been doing the same thing as Durant, only getting tattoos under your jersey. What made you decide to tat your arm?

It was just so tempting. I was like ‘Everybody else got one. I might just get a little something.’ After I got, my mom and my dad was on my head calling me J.R. Smith. [Laughs.] So I’m going to have to calm down for a minute.

What’s your favorite college memory?

Me and Ryan Francis were play fighting and he pushed me through the fire extinguisher glass. [Laughs.] I got stiches on my butt and I had to play the same night. [Laughs.] So they had to pad my butt up. Oh man, that was a crazy night. I had pads all on me like a diaper. [Laughs.] I was not taking no charge or nothing that night.

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