For the second straight summer, a member of the Los Angeles Lakers is the target of an advertising blitz — billboards, bus-stop ads, trucks, etc. — aimed at convincing him to stick around in Los Angeles rather than leaving in free agency. Last year, it was Dwight Howard whom the Lakers organization courted with massive signs reading, simply, "STAY." (As you've probably heard, it didn't work.) This time around, the subject is a bit less All-Starry ... a bit less defensive-game-changer-y ... but, like, infinitely more Swaggy:
Yep. Advertisements specifically dedicated to trying to convince Nick Young — the toboggan-crashing, layup-airballing, cool shirt-wearing, first-pitch-botching, missed-3-celebrating, player-hating, impersonation-friendly gunning guard more popularly known by the divinely inspired moniker of "Swaggy P" — not to leave Southern California now that he's officially opted out of his contract, forsaking the final year and $1.23 million owed him in favor of seeking a richer deal in free agency.
The advertising campaign, which is focused near Staples Center (naturally), began on June 21 and will run for two weeks, meaning it will cover the first four days of the NBA's free agency period. Whereas the Lakers were the ones behind the Howard promotional push, though, this summer's campaign comes directly from the people — namely, from Ahmed bin Sulayem, who is both the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority and, apparently, a diehard Lakers fan who would much rather see Swaggy wearing forum blue and gold than any other colors while he jacks 18 shots per 36 minutes of floor time.
"These campaigns are not just about creating noise," bin Sulayem said in a statement, according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. "They are all about supporting legends that deserve recognition for their continuous drive that inspires and exceeds expectations of millions of fans and supporters every day. In my view, Nick Young epitomizes exactly that and it would be amazing to see him in action at LA Lakers next season as well."
(Nick Young: Legend Who Deserves Recognition, Inspiration to Millions. We're through the looking glass here, my friends.)
It's not bin Sulayem's first rodeo when it comes to big, sweeping, advertising-based outpourings of affection for a Laker; last summer, he took out a full-page ad in the L.A. Times to salute Kobe Bryant and wish the injured Black Mamba a speedy recovery from his torn Achilles tendon.
As it turns out, he's not the only Laker lover to take the billboard route when it comes to efforts to sway Swaggy:
That one comes courtesy of the folks at Lakers Nation.
The Lakers, for their part, are playing any prospective re-up talks pretty close to the vest.
"We anticipated and expected that Nick would choose to become a free agent," general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a team statement. "We very much appreciate his contributions to last season’s team, and we will hopefully be able to bring him back. However, he, his agent and the market will dictate his future direction."
After averaging a team-high 17.9 points per game for the lottery-bound Lakers, the 29-year-old Los Angeles native is hoping the market will dictate more than $1.23 million per year for more than one year. From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“Just more years. I believe I deserve more,” Young said Wednesday in an interview with this newspaper. “That’s up to my agent to do that for me. The Lakers are home, but things could happen. With free agency this year, it’s going to be crazy to see.” [...]
Young did not outline what dollar figure he wanted, though he joked he told Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak that he needs “two years at $50 million to come back.” The Lakers signed Bryant for the next two years worth $48.5 million. Young sounded serious about considering a hometown discount.
“It depends how much the discount is,” Young said. “But as a player, everyone wants a place they feel comfortable at. I feel comfortable in L.A. But I can’t keep taking these discounts. I need a raise a little bit. But if it’s for the right cost and they’re bringing in players and I fit into the rotation, then I’ll probably take a pay cut.”
If Young and the Lakers can find some common ground, the sect of L.A. fandom that has opened its arms wide to embrace Swaggy P will surely continue to show the shot-happy swingman all sorts of love in all shapes, sizes ... and, apparently, advertising formats.
@LakersNation y'all sure do no how to make me feel love— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) April 25, 2014
Hat-tip to friend of the program Ananth Pandian of Hardwood Paroxysm.
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