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 opened up 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 mentally tougher as a person to survive in this market.
“Yeah, the Lakers are exactly what you think they are man. You have to be built differently to play for this organization. You have to be mentally tough, not just on the court but off the court as well, because there’s has so many expectations of being a Laker and putting on that purple and gold because if you don’t meet that expectation they’ll let you know you’re not worthy enough to wear that jersey so you have to play to the best of your abilities and play hard every night, no matter win, lose or draw. You just have to play hard. That’s what they respect.”
“I had a lot of fun there. I came out of a weird situation in Cleveland where they let me down for four months. I kind of came back, just trying to figure out how to fit into a team that I haven’t played before. It was kind of a weird situation to get back into the rhythm of basketball. I wish I had a chance to really connect with these guys and really do something. But everything happens for a reason. The Lakers situation was fun, however, I enjoyed being there.”
Drummond signed a one-year contract with the Lakers on March 28, 2021, after his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, bought out his contract. Drummond missed 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.
The Lakers haven’t seen 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 expectations in Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook probably received the most scrutiny of any recent Lakers player last season after being traded to Los Angeles by the Washington Wizards before the season. Things got so bad for Westbrook that fans booed him when he kicked the ball in a game last season. Westbrook opened up 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 rely on that. And nothing outside of that can ever shake me because I’m so confident in those two things that no matter what, I know I’m capable of accomplishing and showing people that no matter what the situation, you can get away with it. It was really important to me.
“Just to be in a better position on the court and to put the page on everything that happened,” Westbrook told Yahoo Sports of why he’s playing better. “It’s about finding a way to be effective. It’s still a bit difficult at times, but I just try to play the best way I know how, whatever the situation. I’m just trying to keep 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 and become the Lakers’ seventh coach since Phil Jackson left in 2011.
The hope is that Ham, James and Davis can topple the Lakers after the team failed to qualify for the playoffs last year for the first time since 2019.