- Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
- Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — When the door swung open at the Los Angeles Lakers training facility Tuesday, Scotty Pippen Jr. was on one court standing in rebounding position at the foul line — but he didn’t mutter any trash talk to Lakers rookie Max Christie as he launched his freebies as Pippen’s father once did to Karl Malone.
And on an adjacent court, Shareef O’Neal stood at the foul line and got up shots, too, but didn’t clank them off the rim as his father developed a reputation for doing.
Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal they are not. But the sons of the two NBA Hall of Famers sure made for interesting inclusions on the Lakers’ summer league roster, which began practice for the upcoming California Classic in San Francisco and NBA 2K23 Summer League in Las Vegas.
“I would definitely say there’s a different type of camaraderie for guys whose dads played in the NBA,” said Pippen Jr., 21, who went undrafted out of Vanderbilt and signed a two-way contract with L.A. last week. “Because going through this whole process since we were little kids, there’s always a different type of pressure on us, I would say. A different type of expectation. So I tip my hat to all those guys, because playing this game when your father is so-and-so is a different type of pressure to play at.”
While O’Neal’s dad has the sterling résumé with the Lakers organization — after winning three championships, three Finals MVPs and a regular-season MVP in eight seasons with the team — Pippen Jr. has a better chance of being on the Lakers’ roster at the start of training camp.
The 22-year-old Shareef O’Neal also went undrafted after a challenging three seasons at UCLA and LSU, and the Lakers signed him to a summer league contract.
“I was literally born into this team,” he said last week following a pre-draft workout with the Lakers. “My dad, Kobe [Bryant] won championships when I was born, and now it’s me putting on the Lakers gear and I was — it was crazy. I was speechless, kind of.”
While neither Lakers prospect is expected to match their fathers’ careers, they are more than next-of-kin curios. Both have had opponents test them throughout their basketball upbringings because of the names on the back of their jerseys. And if the Golden State Warriors’ championship earlier this month is any indication — winning the title with four second-generation NBA players on the roster in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II — that path is just as much constant competition as it is silver spoon.
“I think people come at me harder just because of who I am,” Pippen Jr. said. “But I think it goes for everyone. Everyone who has a name has a target on their back. I embrace it. I think it’s good to go in the gyms and everyone wants to get my best. So, it’s fun for me.”
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