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Deadspin Calls Nick Young the Basketball ‘Devil’

Oct 17, 2012, 3:48 PM EDT

We’ve discussed this before, and sweet mother of Swaggy P do I love Nick Young.

That’s why I was horrified when the Sixers signed him to a one-year deal this summer.

Sound backwards? I tend to over-enjoy the NBA for a whole lot of the wrong reasons. Yes, I absolutely love basketball and relish seeing it played as its highest level, but it’s the other extraneous, sometimes unbelievable bullshit that keeps my heart racing during what could otherwise prove a chore of an 82-game season.

Nick Young is exactly that can kind of motivation. I cannot explain to you the unbridled joy of finding a Wizards or Clippers game on NBA TV on a Tuesday night, especially when Young was in the murder capital where he was murdering basketball for capital.

You’ve seen him go off on the Sixers in the fourth quarter and knock down a key shot in overtime, but what I’m talking about, what Deadspin is most assuredly talking about in its piece entitled “NBA Shit List: Nick Young, Who Is The Devil” is the other end of the Swaggy P spectrum.

What is Nick Young trying to do? Watching him, you’re reminded of
an overindulged 13-year-old kid who, while his rec league teammates try
to win a basketball game, works on his Michael Jordan imitation,
utterly impervious to any meaning that his glowering teammates, his
apoplectic coach, or his 0-for-28 box-score line might be shrieking into
his face. Double-clutch reverse layup (brick); turnaround fadeaway
(brick); tongue-wagging free-throw-line takeoff (brick). Lost in his
imagination. All walled-off self-consciousness, basketball as solo
performance art, fantasy day camp, masturbation.

Aside from the point about his career assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9 to 1.2), Albert Burneko’s story is enjoyably meta. In short, Nick Young had some excuses made for him, got popular for some of his antics (both positive and negative), and is now crafting his public persona (both on and off the floor) in order to play the role of Nick Young. He’s Nick Young playing a kind of Nick Young, almost like Jimmy Stewart playing a kind of Jimmy Stewart.

Or as Burneko actually writes it:

Nick Young is so far up his own ass that he’s not even playing basketball anymore. He’s playing Nick Young.

I’m excited to watch him play basketball this year. It’s just that my past exuberance for his talents was based on a meaningful distance, or as I put it this summer, “It was funny when it wasn’t my problem.”

In Young’s defense, at no point in his five NBA seasons has he been on a
team that’s been as talented as what the 2012 Sixers appear to be and a coach with the particular temperament and principles of Doug
Collins. Those could be two highly motivating factors for a guy who’s
never had both at the same time.

So there’s absolutely the prospect that Nick could rein himself in under a one-year contract. But if he doesn’t, and you thought you had a problem with Lou Williams’ shot selection, then be prepared.

There’s not a lot of swag in being quietly efficient.