Andre Drummond only played 26 games for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021, but he learned a lot from his brief stint in the purple and gold.
The current Brooklyn Nets big man spoke about his time in Los Angeles in an interview with Jefe Island on Friday. While Drummond said he enjoyed playing for the Lakers, he admitted that you have to be more mentally strong as a person to survive in that market.
“Yeah the Lakers is exactly what you think it is man. You gotta be built differently to play for that organization. You gotta be mentally strong not even just on the court, but off the court too because there’s so much expectations to being a Laker and putting that purple and gold on. Because if you don't meet that expectation they will let you know you're not worthy enough to put on that jersey. So you got to play to the best of your ability and play hard each and every night regardless of win, lose or draw. You gotta just play hard. That's what they respect."
"I had a lot of fun out there. I came off a weird situation in Cleveland where they sat me out for four months. I kind of came back, just trying to figure out how to fit in with a team that I haven't played before. It was kind of a weird situation getting back into the groove of basketball. I wish I had a chance to really connect with those guys and realyl do something. But everything happens for a reason. The Lakers situation was fun, though, I enjoyed being there."
Drummond signed a one-year deal with the Lakers on March 28, 2021, after his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers bought out his contract. Drummond missed some time with injuries and averaged 11.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 24.8 minutes in his 21 regular-season games with Los Angeles. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers before this season but was traded to the Nets alongside Ben Simmons and Seth Curry for James Harden.
Playing in LA
The Lakers haven't enjoyed much positivity since winning the 2020 NBA Finals with LeBron James and Anthony Davis — and Drummond wasn't the only recent Lakers player to deal with the expectations in Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook probably endured the most scrutiny of any recent Lakers player this past season after he was traded to Los Angeles from the Washington Wizards before the season. Things got so bad for Westbrook that fans booed him when he shot the ball during a game this past season. Westbrook talked about his experiences in Los Angeles in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes in April.
“My family is my foundation,” Westbrook told Yahoo Sports. “My faith is my No. 1 foundation, and I lean on that. And anything outside of that can never waver me because I got so much confidence in those two things that regardless of whatever may come my way, I know I’m able to achieve and show people that regardless of the situation, you can make it out of this. That was really important to me.”
“Just being in better position on the floor and just turning the page on whatever happened,” Westbrook told Yahoo Sports as to why he’s playing better. “It’s about finding a way to be effective. It’s still a little bit difficult at times, but I’m just trying to play the best way I know how to play regardless of the situation. Just trying to continue competing.”
Turmoil continued to surround the Lakers after the team fired coach Frank Vogel after three seasons. Los Angeles hired Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham to replace Vogel in May to become the seventh Lakers coach since Phil Jackson left in 2011.
The hope is that Ham, James and Davis can turn around the Lakers after the team failed to make the postseason this past year for the first time since 2019.