During this particular summer, one of the ways some players in the league worked on their games was during the FIBA World Cup at the end of August and beginning of September. In Young’s end-of-season exit interview with media members, he expressed that he would be among the names selected to represent Team USA in the Philippines. But, as selected players’ names leaked to the public before Team USA released the roster, Young’s name was absent.
It’s not the first time Young has possibly felt slighted, despite what he has achieved in five NBA seasons. Young went fifth in the 2018 NBA draft, despite the buzz he generated after leading the NCAA in scoring and assists. He missed out on All-Star selections in 2021 and 2023, despite averaging almost 27 points and 10 assists per game in those seasons.
So, when asked if he felt he still hadn’t received the respect he felt he deserved, Young didn’t shy away from the question. He added, though, that he has his sights on the bigger picture.
“For sure,” said Young, who was named to two other All-Star teams. “If you don’t think I’ve been disrespected, I mean, you’re just not telling the truth. But I mean, it’s OK for me. I just want to go out there and keep the main thing, and that’s winning, and I know when I win a championship, all that’s gonna take care of itself. So I don’t really care about anything else. I just focus on my team, and I’m ready to win.”
That’s exactly where new Hawks coach Quin Snyder wants Young to focus his attention.
“To me, that’s really easy,” Snyder said following the team’s first practice of training camp. “I don’t want him to seek respect. I want him to be respected. He knows. ... Those external measures of success, sometimes they give you an inflated view of a situation. Sometimes they give you, you know, a view on the other side that’s not accurate either. ... If that’s what people are focused on, those things, you know, I’m fine with him being aware of them. And if there’s a motivating factor in there, that’s great, too, but I don’t think that’s his primary thing that drives him. It’s just the thing he gets asked about.”
For Young, it’s all motivation to prove more to himself than anyone else.
“It’s kind of been like my whole story, my whole life,” Young said. “Growing up, I was teammates with the No. 1 player in my class, and I told him every day in practice, I was No. 1, he was No. 2 in the country.
“So I felt like I was being disrespected in high school, as it’s been the same ever since, and I don’t take it, like, personally. Like, when I see people, you’ll still see me with smiles on my face and things like that. Like, I don’t take it personally ... I just use it when I get on the court as, like, motivation to prove myself right, and the work that I’ve put in, it’s gonna pay off.”