The Los Angeles Lakers went from bad to great quickly between the 2018-19 and 2019-20 season, largely due to the blockbuster trade that landed them Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. The July 2019 trade ended a dramatic trade saga that dated back to before the February 2019 trade deadline. The trade also ended months of trade rumors circling Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart, as the constant rumors in the national media reportedly affected the mental state of the young players on the Lakers.
We all know now that Kyle Kuzma was not traded, as Ingram, Ball, and Hart were all shipped to New Orleans in addition to many draft picks. Brandon Ingram, an almost always quiet player, decided to open up about his final campaign with the Lakers on JJ Redick’s “Old Man & the Three” podcast, admitting that the rumors got to at least him and that he — as well as many other players — believed the environment around the Lakers was “not normal” (h/t Jacob Rude and Lonzo Wire for transcription):
“Well, granted I haven’t been in the league long, but I just felt like things were just like not normal. Like I would hear former players from the Lakers be like ‘This is not how things are supposed to go. This isn’t how the organization is supposed to be ran.’ For me, I had one game where I think I let the outside get to me because it’s a lot. It’s a lot. I never let outside noise or anything get to me because I’m so prepared for anything. But there was one game where I was like ‘This is more than basketball. This is an action movie that we’re in right now. Everybody is posing for the cameras, everybody knew where the cameras are.’ Just everything. So, it was important for me to block out all the negativity, everything that’s not going to the work of basketball. It was tough for me.”
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) December 28, 2020
Although Brandon Ingram did not reveal which one game he was speaking about in regards to players literally posing for cameras, but he did dive into how the season was tough for him.
“Well, if we’re going that far, I think that whole year, I was yelling at teammates, I was yelling at coaches. I was getting a little outside myself…You know when you get to the point where you’re just going to let everything out. It was just everything of the outside noise, everything of ‘blah blah this’ or whatever it is, I let it affect me at some points instead of actually playing the basketball games because I knew a lot of things in Lakerland wasn’t right, to be honest. I felt that…There was a point where, like I’m always like about everybody else and try to make sure everybody was good, there was the point in time where I had to take some self-care and make sure I’m straight forward.”
Ingram’s admissions have to be heartbreaking for Lakers’ fans who always loved him. It was somewhat clear at the time that Ingram was the best out of the young players, and it is abundantly clear now as Ingram became a first-time All-Star in his first season last year with the Pelicans. It’s good to hear that he seems to be in a better place now compared to his last season in Lakerland, as his quotes continue to show how dysfunctional the team environment was that season with Magic Johnson still at the helm.