With spring comes renewal. The warm weather and explosion of colors spur action among mammals. After a long, dark winter, everything on earth (or at least the Northern hemisphere) receives a jolt of energy and an instinctual call to action. Bears emerge from hibernation, dads dust off their green-tinted Nike Air Monarchs for yard work, and undergraduate students use predatory student loans to attend music festivals. It's science, really.
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young has clearly spent his winter doing some soul searching. Whether contemplating at 35,000 feet on a team plane, scanning his Twitter feed, or listening to old-school R&B on his morning commute to the Hawks practice facility, Young has come to a conclusion - he's done being quiet about the disrespect.
On any given day, if you check the updated NBA stats, you will see that Young often leads the league in total points and total assists. Even better, he averages 28.3 points and 9.6 assists per game. Young's turnovers and free throws are down, while his production and efficiency are up. No guard in the association is touching those numbers.
The naysayers who expected his game to crumble after rule changes are in shambles. Every nitpick stat met with a historic performance. Every critique met with a correction. Every slight met with a shimmy.
Despite his team failing to meet their lofty goals so far this season, Young has maintained his calm demeanor. He's gone above and beyond in how he treats fans and foes alike.
The universe has a way of rewarding people who do right by others. Also, Madison Avenue knows a winner when they see one. It's why Young's signature Adidas shoes are a best-seller, and he's the face of national ad campaigns from Spite, State Farm, and Body Armor. Not to mention the appearance in an upcoming Netflix movie starring Adam Sandler.
While fans and corporations alike have recognized this emerging superstar, the league in which he plays is the most reluctant to pay him respect. Last year featured some of the most egregious examples. No All-Star appearance (despite missing players for the game in Atlanta), no Team USA selection, and no All-NBA honors.
Another spring ritual is media members voting for prestigious league awards. Given the convergence of the annual ritual and Young's exasperation with his little-bro treatment, there's been a noticeable change in tone with the 23-year-old.
As of late, the undersized point guard's rhetoric has become much more pointed. Not only do players receive shiny trophies for league honors, but hefty contract incentives. In Young's case, an All-NBA selection this season would net him $34.5 million from his NBA contract alone.
The Hawks have four games remaining in the regular season. From there, they enter the Play-In Tournament, which is the equivalent of the night fight scene in Squid Game. Whoever is the most cunning
contestant team enters the Playoffs for a chance to compete for the suspended piggy bank Larry O'Brien Trophy.
In the past, I've theorized that 2021 was Young's villain origin story and that 2022 would serve as the year he receives his flowers. Since that Grammy's was last night, I'll use a musical metaphor. This spring and the rest of 2022 could be Young's Graduation album. However, if the powers that be snub Young again this year, then 2023 could be his version of the Yeezus album. Either way, it will result in a masterpiece.
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