Nick Young: 'Pride factor is going to kick in'

LOS ANGELES – Nick Young wasn’t very happy when he heard where the Los Angeles Lakers were ranked in ESPN’s Summer Forecast.

“We’re ranked 12th in the league?” he said, slightly puzzled.

Well, not exactly, more like 12th in the West, right behind the New Orleans Pelicans to be exact.

“What? No! Out of teams in the West?” he said, now more upset than puzzled.

“That’s very disappointing,” Young said. “I’m upset just hearing that right now. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens this season. We’re going to be ranked higher than that by the end of the season.”

Young, who grew up in Los Angeles and played at Cleveland High in Reseda, Calif. and at USC, is no stranger to having people doubt him but didn’t think that would be the case after joining Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash with the Lakers.

“I’ve been the underdog for so long,” Young said. “I’m upset and ready for the season. How are you going to be ranked that low with Kobe and Pau and Nash? There’s always going to be haters and we just have to keep proving them wrong.”

As much as Young is looking forward to playing alongside three future hall of fame players this season, he’s just as excited about re-uniting with his longtime friend Jordan Farmar. Farmar, who went to Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif., tried to recruit his travel-ball teammate to UCLA with him in 2004 but was unsuccessful. The two have finally connected nearly a decade later back home with their favorite NBA team growing up.

“I talked to Jordan Farmar about that,” Young said. “We talked about it on the phone. We sat down and talked and then texted and called. This was a chance for us to really do something special and make that name we’ve wanted to make in the league. I grew up being a big-time Kobe fan and before him it was Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones and before that that it was Magic and Kareem. I grew up with the Forum. I’m from L.A. To play for the Lakers after growing up and watching them is amazing.”

Both Young and Farmar took less money to play for the Lakers this season but it was an easy choice after they talked to each other. Although Young had to sacrifice slightly more as Farmar claimed the No. 1 jersey they both wanted, while Young settled for No. 0.

“It was an easy decision,” Young said. “Who doesn’t want to play for the Lakers? Of course, I had to sit down and talk to my family and talk to my agent but I really felt like this was the best opportunity for me. Even though I had more money other places, I just felt like the chance to play in the spotlight and back home was too good to pass up.”

Young spoke to ESPNLA.com while at a "Call of Duty: Ghosts" multiplayer reveal event at L.A. Live, where he played the game with Anthony Bennett and DeAndre Jordan against U.S. Marines in attendance.

At the event Young, who played for the Clippers two seasons ago, was already talking about the Lakers and Clippers’ opening night game on Oct. 29 with Jordan.

“I told D.J. to be ready opening night,” Young said. “We just got to come out and play. I know that pride factor is going to kick in. We got the talent, we got the players, we just got to really show it.”