Thanks to the pioneering ways of Chris Andersen, Jeremy Lin, and many others, the NBA G League is a proven gateway to The Association. Hitting the minor league hardwood can serve as a talented athlete’s chance to show they have what it takes to play in the NBA. You never know who is watching.
Of course, the hope turned expectation these days is that there is someone watching. Sooner or later, a player will get noticed and that opportunity will follow.
But alas, sometimes standing out is easier said than done. For veteran Andre Ingram, the question surrounding his future became more about how much longer he’d stick things out and less about what else he could do on the court to prove he was ready.
If basketball resumes could talk, Ingram’s would scream. He’s the NBA G League’s all-time leader in games played and three-point field goals made. The vet also ranks third in total points and fourth across the board in field goals made, steals, and defensive rebounds. Ingram’s 45.2% career-mark from downtown in fifth all-time among qualifying players. After more than a decade in the NBA G League, it’s safe to say that Ingram’s remarkable feats are impressive.
Ingram’s lifestyle probably isn’t the one most aspiring professional athletes dream of, but after eight seasons with the South Bay Lakers (and four before with the Utah Flash), the sharpshooter makes things work. He’s able to keep his family close by playing stateside and flexes some of his off the court talents, helping make ends meet by serving as a math tutor in his spare time. He’s continued to keep his dream alive and is proof that one’s highest hopes can still be realized, regardless of how long it takes.
At the age of 32 years old, Ingram received an NBA Call-Up in April 2018 after putting the finishing touches on his tenth pro season. He was ready to pack things up and take a breather before switching gears to prep mode for the next campaign, but the Lakers had other plans. The organized recognized his grit and grind over the years, and decided it was time for him to receive that coveted call. The promotion in of itself sparked a feel-good story to start, but it was what Ingram did next that caused fireworks to explode into the sky and alert an entire nation hungry for something to believe in.
Boasting gray in his hair, Ingram looked the part of a grizzled veteran with the experience to back it up, but stepped onto the Staples Center still as a fresh face for spectators looking forward to seeing what he was all about. Upon joining Los Angeles, then-President Magic Johnson told Ingram that he wanted to see some of his hot shooting from deep, and the NBA rookie must’ve taken that to heart.
Ingram let the ball fly and embraced the notion that his new teammates kept feeding him the ball. Not one to back down from the pressure, Ingram basked in the bright lights he had been craving his entire career and poured in 19 points on four three-point field goals in his NBA debut on April 10, 2018. When one finally reaches the pinnacle of their journey, it certainly isn’t the time to take it easy. Hungry as ever, Ingram also finished the game with three blocks.
National interviews followed, talks of biographies and movies began to rise. It’s a story people only dream up, but for Ingram, it was the day at the office he was waiting for.
The veteran’s journey isn’t the cookie-cutter NBA G League story, nor is it the ideal way to reach the NBA. It took Ingram more than most, but his perseverance never wavered and he remained humble throughout. It’s a story of hope. If it can happen to him, why can’t it happen for the next person? If anything, NBA G League athletes can perhaps learn from Ingram how to fast-track their own path by embodying his professionalism, humble nature, and endless work ethic.
Flashing back to last April, when Andre Ingram earned his first #NBACallUp…
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 11, 2019
As fate would have it, Ingram hasn’t gone far at all if such up and comers are looking for an example to follow.
His journey continues, with a second NBA stint to speak up as he keeps the dream alive while continuing to climb the ladder of the minor league record books. He’s still suiting up, not only serving as an inspiration, but fulfilling his purpose even past the point of making headlines. That’s the sign of a true hero.