After 10 seasons in the NBA's minor league, 32-year old guard Andre Ingram finally made his National Basketball Association debut last night with the Los Angeles Lakers and it wasn't long before he was hearing "MVP" chants from the Staples Center crowd.
Ingram hit his very first shot, a 3-pointer, and finished 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, along with three rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal.
Paul said of Ingram's debut to ESPN after the game: "I told him I heard about his story, and that grind is unbelievable".
When asked by reporters what their conversation was about, he said: "I told him much respect". As quickly as we went out as a workers for warmups, I merely felt some electrical power in the marketplace. It was fantastic. The crowd, the lights, it was just once in a lifetime.
While shooting free throws, Ingram even earned "MVP" chants from the crowd.
The Lakers lost 105-99 to the Rockets which made Ingram's introduction to the league bittersweet.
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"Once I talked to Magic and everything, I was, I don't know, just emotions were flowing, and I didn't want to stop it", he said, referring to Lakers president Magic Johnson.
Ingram's 19 points were the most by a Lakers rookie debut since Nick Van Exel in 1993.
Since graduating from America University in 2007, Ingram has spent his entire career in the NBA's developmental league, including four seasons with the now-defunct Utah Flash, five seasons with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and a season with the South Bay Lakers, who he played for this year.
The 32-year-old has also scored the fifth-most points in league history (3,901) and won the 3-Point Contest in 2010 and 2016.
Ingram and his Lakers will wrap up the season this evening against the Clippers before officially beginning the offseason.
Walton, who at one point played with Ingram in the G League, said the Lakers weren't just doing Ingram a favour; they wanted to show he could play.