Andre Ingram is a 32-year-old NBA rookie, which is unique to say the least. For starters, his hair has enough of a salt and pepper look that he'd probably be considered the old man at the park.
With only two games remaining in the NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to reward a 10-year veteran of the G-League, formerly known as the NBA Development League, for his service by signing him for the remainder of the year. The former American University physics major had hit 713 3-pointers in the G League with 46-percent accuracy, but his slight stature kept him out of the NBA until this late call-up.
Known as a shooter with a dead-eye for the bottom of the net, Ingram made his NBA debut on Tuesday night in the Lakers' final home game of the season and did not disappoint.
After entering the game to an unusually loud ovation late in the first quarter, Ingram put up a perfect second quarter from the foul line, three-point line and the field for 11 points to lead the Lakers' in scoring entering the intermission.
You stay on the grind and at the end of your 10th year, you finally get the call.
Andre Ingram never stopped persevering and now his @NBA dream is a reality. #ThisIsWhyWePlay #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/1SZhc5SW7k
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 10, 2018
In his first NBA game, Ingram had the crowd chanting "MVP" when he was at the foul line, as STAPLES Center seemed to embrace and celebrate Ingram's baskets more enthusiastically than any other player's buckets--on either team.
When the second half started, the gray-haired rookie stepped into another crowd erupting three-pointer and improved to 4/4 from the field through three quarters for 14 points. Fourteen points on four field goal attempts is a great return regardless of the level of player or experience.
The Houston Rockets led by as many as 16 points on the day, but Ingram's play energized the crowd and helped the Lakers claw within four points with a shade over two minutes remaining in the ball game. Beyond simply scoring, Ingram also recorded three blocks--which was more than he had ever managed in the G-League.
Lakers coach Luke Walton stuck with Ingram at the end of the game, and the veteran basketball professional officially registered as an NBA rookie went on to hit another three-pointer in the final minute of the game to bring his personal tally to 19 points and also cut the difference between the Lakers and Rockets to only three points.
"10 years.... Helluva opening night"
The game ball �� could only go to one person. Thank you for inspiring us all, Andre Ingram! #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/4NwSUpUykC
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 11, 2018
Ultimately, the Lakers lost a meaningless game in April to the team with the best record in the NBA, but this night would not be remembered for the 105-99 final score.
No, Tuesday night was all about Ingram, who finished the night with 19 points on 6/8 shooting, three blocks, three rebounds and one assist.
Ingram, a native of Richmond, Va., played briefly in Australia, but mostly declined chances to play overseas because he was determined to earn an NBA shot through the minors. He once tutored teammates in math to make extra cash in the offseason.
During his debut, the sellout crowd moved from charitable support to full-throated roars, including chants of "M-V-P!" that brought a smile to Ingram's face. Ingram had flown his wife and two daughters in from Virginia to watch the culmination of their work.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.