Nick Young's Enthusiastic Parents
After the small showing by Wizards fans at Tuesday's Summer League opener, there were plenty of Wiz logos in the crowd tonight. I figured I'd take a census, but the first group I approached turned out to be Nick Young's parents and niece.
As it turns out, I would have figured this out without taking the census, because Nick's mother Mae soon began yelling for the team she calls "The Wizard." Like, really yelling. And heckling. She was heckling the Pistons' Arron Afflalo; calling him "All Fall Down."
"We don't like the UCLA people," she explained. "Ain't nothing changed. We don't like no Bruins. He's playing my baby's team; that's a rivalry."
Soon, Young's childhood friend Michael Thomas arrived; he said that this routine hasn't changed, from rec leagues to high school to college. Mae Young would show up and scream, sometimes hiding in the corner so others wouldn't be embarrassed. Also, she would obsessively wave a towel or a jersey or some similar piece of fabric; she felt empty Wednesday without something in her hands. Meanwhile, Nick's dad Charles would attempt to offer his son advice from the crowd, but he couldn't match his wife's decibels.
"I fight for them; anything go wrong on the floor, I'm ready to go out there and whoop somebody," she said, jokingly. "I know it don't mean a thing, it's just a Summer League game, but I want to win."
"I don't sit next to her, she hollers too much," Charles said. "Draws too much attention. Half the time she don't know what she's talking about no way."
"I'm not coming here to criticize 'em or tell them what they did wrong, I'm here to yell," she acknowledged. "I'm gonna yell for my baby until he retires."
"We could sit beside each other, but the people in front of us would have earaches," said George Sellmon, another Wizards fan in the building."
During down moments tonight, she did manage to tell me a bit more about her youngest son. He secretly got his first and only tattoo of an angel over his heart; his parents didn't find out for a month. He's something of a clothes horse; from the age of 8, he refused to allow her to buy his clothes because he didn't like her taste, so she would take him to the mall and give him money and live with the results. Now, everyone in the family goes to consult with him on fashion, although his tastes run to the high end.
"He's a clothes freak and a shoes freak," Mae told me. "That's probably where all his money goes. He should open a clothes store. He's a shopaholic....He bought an $800 pair of Gucci shoes. I wanted to shake him. I looked at that price; he tried to hide 'em. That was before he signed anything. He's a trend-setter; everybody in the neighborhood knows that."
Also, he made promises about buying his parents a house and all that once he made the League, but now he's told his mom they should wait a year or two.
"He told us he's gonna give us a little bit, and then we're on our own," she said. "I'm glad you've got a good job baby," she said to her husband, as they bumped fists. "Make him feel bad," she said to me.
I promised the Youngs that I would particularly emphasize she was joking about this. But Mae has been earnestly lobbying for a trip to D.C., and Nick has thus far resisted her entreaties.
"I've been begging him; I said I'll be a maid for him, I'll clean for him," she said. "Nah--he wants to 'be a man' now."
Young's parents talked to him after his 3-for-14 shooting night in his opener; "I told him don't worry about it, he's got 14 more shots today," Charles told me. "That he did," Mae agreed.
And so both parents encouraged Nick to keep shooting as Mae shrieked her way through the game, working the refs for calls, talking about how cool Wiz Summer Leaguer Kyle Visser looked, howling "Miss It!!!!" when the Pistons were on the line, shouting out "Let's Go Wizard!" over and over, and urging second-round pick Dominic McGuire to shoot. He's the one Summer Leaguer whose name she's learned, but she promised to do better.
"I have to learn how to pronounce his name," she said of Oleksiy Pecherov. "He's family now."
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