Trae Young won't stop nutmegging opponents after Trevor Ariza run-in: 'Just close your legs'

Jack Baer
·3 min read
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) reacts after a long range assist during the second half of an NBA basketball game against thePortland Trail Blazers, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Atlanta. The Hawks won 129-117. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Trae Young isn't changing how he plays. (AP Photo/John Amis)

A hip check from a player with 13 years and 35 pounds on him was supposed to be a message to Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, about respecting your elders and and not doing the extremely fun act of dribbling the ball through a defender’s legs.

Young is using the opportunity to send a message back: Get used to it.

Trae Young doubles down after Trevor Ariza run-in

The discourse around Young’s nutmegging began on Saturday, when the 21-year-old tried to nutmeg Portland Trail Blazers veteran Trevor Ariza.

The ball got past Ariza, but the 34-year-old made sure Young did not with a hard hip-check.

Ariza was hit with a flagrant 1 foul for the move, and Young followed that up by making a floater on the next possession and receiving a technical foul for taunting.

The two players appeared to make nice after the game, a 129-117 Atlanta win, but Ariza told The Athletic’s Jason Quick how he really felt in the locker room:

“I told him, ‘Don’t do that s--- again; not to me, at least,”‘ Ariza said. “I mean, I’ve never made an All-Defensive team or none of that shit, and he’s an All-Star, so he can be creative by ways to get around me. But all the, like, funnies? I’m not with the funnies. I don’t like the funnies.”

And with that, the basketball world entered a situation that baseball fans know all too well. A young, talented player being told to stop doing something fun out of respect for the pride of an older player, at the expense of those paying to see both players.

Young didn’t back down in his response to Ariza, defending the nutmeg as an actual basketball strategy and calling it entertainment to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Sarah Spencer:

“I use it to create space, I use it for my advantage,” Young said. “(Ariza) can call it what (he wants)... it’s not to showboat, it’s flair and excitement. It’s basketball and entertainment. ... Ain’t gotta be serious 24/7. You can smile, you can have fun, you can engage with the crowd, you can flex, you can do whatever you want. Have fun with it.”

He followed that quote up with a tweet on Thursday with a bit of advice for players who don’t want to experience the embarrassment of a nutmeg.

That’s pretty fair from Young. It’s not like nutmegging is some unfair tactic that only he has the gall to use; he’s just really good at it and learning how to stop it is part of preparing to defend him. However, he still has like five other moves in his bag that can humiliate a defense.

We’ll see if Ariza is the only player that opts to gift Young some free throws instead of actually stopping the move going forward, because Young isn’t going anywhere for the next decade.

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