The 27th pick of the NBA Draft, Larry Nance, Jr., got his first taste of Los Angeles during his press conference on Monday. After General Manager Mitch Kupchak introduced him at the Lakers practice facility, Nance took questions from the assembled media:
Q: Opening statement:
Nance: We went through a six-week process of flying throughout the U.S. and working out for other teams, but I can truly say there’s not one place that I’d rather be than here today. I just want to thank you all for coming out, and go Lakers.
Q: On being with the Lakers, and how his dad, Larry Sr., reacted as a former pro:
Nance: I’m ecstatic to be here, obviously. I think on Draft Night, my dad kind of looked at me and said, “Well, you’re now the enemy.” He was a Phoenix Sun for seven years, so I didn’t get to see them, but I’m sure he had some pretty good battles against the Lakers. It’s been a whirlwind, and I’m just so happy to be here. I can’t even put it into words.
Q: On playing for head coach Byron Scott:
Nance: The two major things I’ve heard is — No. 1: defense — and No. 2: the effort that you’re expected to put in every day. Through college I’ve learned a lot about that, with defense especially. I’ve always been excited to work and get better, and I just can’t wait to learn as much as I possibly can from a great basketball mind.
Q: On being drafted by the Lakers:
Nance: It’s been like a dream. Coming into this process, it was kind of funny to hear my name called. Just to hear it called by probably the best franchise in sports history and to work out in this gym and look up to see (the championship trophies) in the windows. It’s a surreal feeling. I didn’t necessarily have any inclination that I was going to end up here, but when I heard my name called with the 27th pick, it was just a dream come true.
Q: On whether growing up with a father in the NBA gives him any advantages:
Nance: I do believe so. I’m not the first member of my family going through this process. Going through this, any questions I have, my dad’s been through it. He’s going to have the best advice I could possibly ask for. I have to credit him for a lot … but mainly basketball IQ. He’s taught me a whole lot. I’ve studied his old black-and-white VHS tapes on the old TV, so I just hope to keep learning from him.
Q: On Kobe Bryant’s reaction to an inflammatory tweet that Nance sent out in 2012:
Nance: I apologized to him. It was definitely something that I wish I could take back. Like he said, it’s water under the bridge, and I really appreciate that he took the high road on it.
Q: On how important it was to get past the aftermath of the tweet:
Nance: When I heard my name called with the 27th pick, it was about two minutes until I found out about that. About 24 hours went past when I felt like I was going to throw up, sick to my stomach. I was just embarrassed in myself. I felt so bad about what I said. I just wanted to apologize to him right away. Once I got his number, I made sure to write the best message I possibly could and send it to him. Once I got (a text from him): “Hey, you’re a kid. We’ve all said and done things we’ve regretted. It’s water under the bridge. Welcome to the family.” I immediately felt my stomach release. There was a big knot, and it was definitely something I’ll learn from. Now I just need to make it up to you guys and the Lakers fans.
Q: On whether he was afraid of what Bryant might say:
Nance: Terrified. You hear all the stories about how Mr. Bryant is so intense and just always on edge. I was just nervous to send a long message and maybe just get an “OK,” or not a response at all. I’m just so glad he handled that in the manner that he did, because I could still be up here right now with a knot in my stomach. But he did a terrific job, and I just can’t thank him enough for forgiving me.
Q: On what he wants to display at Summer League:
Nance: I really just hope to give my energy on the court. Give 100 percent all play and every play. Be as athletic as I possibly can, play with a high IQ and win. That’s No. 1: win.
Q: On his first impressions of Los Angeles:
Nance: I’m from Ohio, so I’ve only been out here for three days. I’m actually looking forward to getting rid of winter. That’s going to be fun. Everybody wants to be in California. It always sounds like a fun time. It always seems like everybody’s just happy. I’m just hoping to experience part of that.
Q: On whether he considers himself more polished than the younger players coming into the league:
Nance: After playing four years of college and learning as much as I could. … I feel like I’m ready and eager to learn and play. Definitely maturity is a factor with these guys coming out here. But that’s the advantage with four-year guys. We were able to work a lot, and we’ve seen a little bit more.
Q: On whether he was 100 percent recovered from his 2014 ACL tear during this college season:
Nance: It was something that I had to get over more mentally than physically. I was probably back physically in the beginning of the year, but it takes a little bit of time before you fall and don’t immediately think, “Oh, something’s torn.” Now I feel like I’m getting better at it. I’m ready to just take the next step, completely erasing it from my mind.
Q: On being part of the Lakers' young core:
Nance: The day after I got picked, I got a text from one of my teammates, Tarik (Black), and he said, "We're a young, eager group ready to restore this franchise to where it once was." I think that kind of sums it up. These guys are ready. ... I'm just excited to play a piece in that project. It's going tough. It's going to be a long road. It's going to take a lot of work. But I know the three of us are (ready), and the guys in the locker room are more than ready and willing to.