The Quiet One: Brandon Ingram grows into Pelicans’ vocal leader; says goal is championship

Brandon Ingram played a large role in organizing involuntary summer practices and workouts with teammates
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 12:10 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2022 at 11:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The return of Zion Williamson has grabbed plenty of headlines this offseason that it nearly seems, on a national stage, that Brandon Ingram’s accomplishments have completely flown under the radar.

In a sense, maybe that’s how the one-time All-Star forward prefers things.

Ingram was selected at No. 2 overall in 2016 by the Los Angeles Lakers. With his 6′8 frame and guard-like skills, Ingram was instantly compared often to Kevin Durant and expected to have immediate success for a franchise trying to transfer from Kobe Bryant to the next era. With a young core in place, the Lakers abandoned their youth movement after acquiring LeBron James and they used Ingram and other assets as trade bait to land Anthony Davis from New Orleans.

The result for the Lakers instantly turned into a championship.

While Ingram seemed to become an afterthought to some in the wake of Laker success, he set himself on a path of steady improvement as a Pelican, earning his first All-Star selection in his first year in New Orleans. The quiet Ingram has never been one to beat his chest and yell but he immediately seized the opportunity to rewrite the narrative of his career.

Now with playoff experience under his belt after three seasons, even if he doesn’t advertise it, Ingram has become a vocal leader on the Pelicans.

Without Ingram being the first player to sign his 5-year contract extension to stay in New Orleans shortly after being traded, VP David Griffin says the franchise’s current success would not be possible. This summer alone Zion signed a 5-year extension, C.J. McCollum signed a 4-year extension, and Larry Nance Jr. extended his contract with the Pelicans for two more seasons.

“A few years ago, Brandon Ingram signed a 5-year extension with no (player) option,” Griffin said. “We told you at the time how important that was but because we weren’t winning nobody cared.”

Griffin says that Ingram was the first guy that said that they truly wanted to be in New Orleans at that time. Ingram said it again at Media Day on Monday, Sept. 26.

“I’m happy to be here,” Ingram said. “I’m happy to be here with my teammates and they make it fun.”

Ingram seems to be at home in New Orleans. For the Kinston, North Carolina native, a smaller southern city like New Orleans is a major contrast to the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. New Orleans is a place where it’s easy for him to block out the noise and focus on basketball.

Recently on the newly launched ESPN C.J. McCollum Show, Ingram said that there’s no “fake love” from fans in New Orleans and that “real people” live down here.

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“The expectation is the same,” Ingram said. “My next goal is to help bring a championship to New Orleans. We have the guys...it’s a matter of if you care about it enough.”

Ingram is laid-back and soft-spoken, but he understands the importance of communication. He said that it was the key to whether or not the team will see success this season. He acknowledged that the guys in the locker room are multi-talent but also noted that it’ll only work if they have the right conversations with each other.

Ingram also took initiative this offseason. He organized involuntary practices and workouts and every player on the roster continued to show up.

“The coaches make me look good too much over it, but I was a big part of what we did in the summer,” Ingram said. “These are the guys we’re going to war with...It’s important that we get together and get to know each other.”

Ingram said that it’s important they get together and talk about basketball and talk about their families.

He’s improved each season since becoming a Pelican. If the trend continues, the ceiling is high for Ingram in the Big Easy.

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