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When you've just had your best game of the season, there's a good chance the working press will want to get your take on the evening's proceedings. It came as no surprise, then, that Nick Young drew some attention for his off-the-bench outburst in the Philadelphia 76ers' come-from-behind 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night — a team-high 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting, four assists ("which is like 20 for anyone else," as ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin put it) and zero turnovers in 29 minutes will get you noticed.
In the past, Young's shown a sartorial flair for the dramatic when eyes turned his way. This time around, he didn't break out a denim-and-suede blouse/tapestry (blousestry?), but as Enrico Campitelli Jr. of Philly-centric blog The 700 Level saw, Young did have a little something ready for the occasion:
That Skateboard P-evoking logo sweatshirt is what Young was wearing after helping push Philly to its seventh win in 11 tries on the young season. "Swaggy P," of course, is Young's favored nickname, which graces his Twitter account, most descriptions of his play (be they positive or negative) and, as it turns out, many of Young's references to himself. From Campitelli:
One might question Madonna wearing a Madonna t-shirt after her own concert. Or LeBron James wearing a t-shirt with his own face on it at a concert after an NBA Finals win. So one also might be inclined to question Swaggy P. I would do no such thing.
"Y'all are here for Swaggy P.?" Young exclaimed, welcoming the throng of reporters surrounding him in the locker room post game.
"Make sure you all go buy one of these," Swaggy said referring to his sweatshirt bearing his name.
The funny thing was he doesn't even know where you can get one because a fan sent it to him. He wasn't even planning on wearing it, he said, but after the Sixers had such a wild successful fourth quarter, he obviously had a change of swag.
I mean, we can certainly say that Young's swag expanded and intensified in that fourth quarter, when he went 4 for 7 from the field, canning two triples, dishing three assists and pouring in 10 points to team with Thaddeus Young (10 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting in the frame), Jason Richardson (six points in the fourth) and Jrue Holiday (who created 15 of Philly's 33 points off assists or his own offense, orchestrated the Sixers' whole attack with his penetration and hounded Toronto's guards on the other end) in bringing the 76ers back from the seven-point deficit they faced after three quarters. But his swag was occasionally phenomenal earlier, too — most notably when he buried this shot-clock-ending prayer late in the first:
Young spoke about the confidence that underpins his willingness to take shots like that, and make buckets like the two fourth-quarter 3-pointers he hit to push the 76ers along, after the game. From Bob Cooney at the Philadelphia Daily News (emphasis mine):
"[...] It just felt good out there. They started double-teaming me, and I just got it to the open man. We were down, like, eight with 4 minutes to go and we just fought. The fans started getting behind us, and that plays a big part. When I see that shot go in for me, I just feel I can make the next one and the next one ..."
But while his unerring belief that the next one's going down, for better or for worse, is what has characterized most of the narrative of Young's five-year NBA career, it's that second sentence ("... I just got it to the open man") that 76ers coach Doug Collins emphasized in his postgame comments. And, naturally, he did so in a hilarious way. More from Campitelli:
"Swaggy quietly has passed the ball very well," Coach Collins said. "I've been very pleased with him."
Collins isn't alone. While the inconsistent defensive effort and frequent offensive inefficiency that have marked Young's prior stints with the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers have reared their heads in Philly, three straight strong performances — he's averaging 16 points in just under 22 minutes per game over Philly's last three games, all wins, and shooting 62.5 percent from the field, 53.8 percent from 3-point range and 91.7 percent from the line in that stretch — have Philly sports observers like Spike Eskin of CBS Philadelphia counting themselves thankful for Young's presence, especially when he drops postgame jewels like this:
He gave us an all-time Nick Young moment after the game when he gave the reason for his success. "I didn't want to hear Doug's mouth," he said. "Swaggy P came and delivered."
Even some hard-bitten, logical, analytical types — who often tend to hate Young's shot-happy, score-but-do-virtually-nothing-else brand of basketball — are starting to fall under his spell. This bit from Michael Baumann's long, thoughtful piece on 76ers blog Liberty Ballers — titled "On Nick Young and the Art of Falling in Love," which feels pretty perfect to me — really gets at the allure and attraction of Swaggy P:
Nick Young is "Consider the lilies of the field." Nick Young is "Come on, guys, it'll be hilarious." Nick Young is "We'll worry about that later." Nick Young is "Borrow the money, take the trip." Nick Young is "Tonight we dance, for tomorrow they release the dogs." Nick Young is "What good is a reward if you're not around to use it?"
Nick Young is staying out until last call. Nick Young is the thrill of the chase. Nick Young is going commando. Nick Young is Red Bull instead of coffee. Nick Young is not the kind of basketball player you bring home to meet your parents. Nick Young is played by Jack Black in the movie version. Nick Young is too busy having fun to give a [damn] about your stern disapproval.
Nick Young is the diametric opposite of how I try to live my life. But he's the perfect representation of how I want to live it.
The cold reality, of course, is that Nick Young will break your heart; Wizards fans know this all too well. He will shoot you out of games, he will disinterestedly defend you out of games, he will refuse to pass you out of games, he will lackadaisically not-box-out you out of games — he is an incredibly versatile player, lose-you-games-wise. But in those moments when the shot's falling, when everything's clicking and his joy is irrepressible ... he's pure and unadulterated fun in a way that few NBA players are. There's room for that. There has to be.
For a fan base that watched its Phillies miss the playoffs, can't watch its Flyers, is watching its Eagles tank and is waiting with a furrowed collective brow for the other shoe to drop in the ever-evolving psychodrama surrounding Andrew Bynum, maybe Swaggy P is just what the orthopedist ordered. Things will go south soon enough, and when that happens, there'll be plenty of blame to go around; there always is in breakups. But for now, the Sixers are 7-4, Nick Young is swagging out and things are fun. Let them be. There's nothing wrong with love.
If the video clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to check out Young's falling-out-of-bounds 3-pointer elsewhere, thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association.