Standing by his locker after his debut with the Clippers, Nick Young stressed that there is one thing that he must do before he truly feels like a part of the team.
Create a handshake.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has a special handshake that he does with each of the players before they take the court. The handshakes often include intricate dance moves, jumps and elbow bumps. Young, who was acquired by the Clippers on Thursday, was the only player who was left out of that pregame ritual on Sunday.
"He's got one for every player so I told him I need mine," Young said of Jordan. "I need to fit in, you know."
On the court, however, it seemed as though Young was already an important part of the team.
He played 28 minutes and 30 seconds, notching the fourth-highest minute total of any player. Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro even played him 11 minutes in the fourth quarter, meaning that he was part of the group that overcame a nine-point deficit to tie the score at 74 at the end of regulation.
That even surprised Young.
"I was like, 'I'm really playing, I'm really out there,'" Young said.
He remained in the game during the entire five-minute overtime, helping the Clippers beat the Detroit Pistons, 87-83.
"It shows a lot, you know, that [Del Negro] had faith in me to keep me in down the stretch," Young said. "My mind-set was I want to be able to stay in games like this so I was going to do anything possible to stay out there."
Young finished with nine points, though he struggled from the field, making only one of six attempts. But he was seven for eight from the free-throw line.
"The shots were just a little short but, you know, I was trying my best to play both ends of the floor," said Young, who hadn't played in a game since Tuesday and had not yet practiced with the Clippers.
Said Del Negro: "I think he did a great job for us."
Young was averaging 16.6 points with the Washington Wizards before the Clippers became part of a three-team, five-player trade last week that sent him back to his hometown of Los Angeles, where he starred at Reseda Cleveland High and USC.
The 6-foot-7 shooting guard had always wanted to return to Los Angeles, where he could play in front of his family. During the game, Young said that he kept eyeing the crowd in an attempt to find where his parents were sitting, but he could not locate them.
There will be plenty of time for him to figure that out, though, which is a notion that he still needs to digest.
"I keep feeling like I'm leaving after the game, he said. "But I'm here to stay."