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Brandon Ingram became an All-Star after leaving Lakers, partly due to health scare

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram drives to the basket against Clippers guard Rodney McGruder during a game on  Jan. 18 in New Orleans.
Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram drives to the basket against Clippers guard Rodney McGruder during a game this season in New Orleans.
(Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)

The discovery of the blood clot in Brandon Ingram’s right shoulder last year while he was a Laker was not a blessing in disguise — it was just a blessing. Because they discovered it, doctors were able to clear the blockage and prevent it from becoming a more serious issue. He made a full recovery.

The blessing in disguise was that Ingram was forced into a routine.

“Me being injured this summer, I think that helped me just lock in and take advantage of every piece in time that I’m having on the basketball floor. I’m just enjoying every time that I go out there,” Ingram said Friday while stopping by the Greater Chicago Food Depository for an NBA Cares event.

Ingram, now a New Orleans Pelicans forward, credits that focus for helping him to develop into an All-Star in his fourth season.

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“I’m very excited. I think this is a big accomplishment for me and my family,” said Ingram, 22. “A true blessing to me and it just shows the hard work that’s been put in through the years of me playing basketball.”

Ingram was the second of three consecutive No. 2 overall picks drafted by the Lakers — all of whom were eventually traded. Lonzo Ball, selected second in 2017, was traded with Ingram in the deal to acquire All-Star forward Anthony Davis. D’Angelo Russell, the second pick in 2015, was traded to Brooklyn in 2017 and also became an All-Star last season.

Ingram was selected as a reserve this year. He has averaged career highs in point with 24.9, three-point percentage at 40%, free throw percentage at 86.2%, rebounds per game at 6.4 and assists per game at 4.2.

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“To get back healthy, get back out there and try to develop a routine and try to develop a work ethic in everything that I’m doing on and off the basketball floor,” Ingram said of his goals. “To keep my mental straight on and off the basketball floor, how to stay mentally locked in on exactly what I want to do. I always give it to my teammates, the coaches that’s around that keep me going every single day.”

A different show

Ernie Johnson and the rest of the “Inside the NBA” crew will be honored at this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductions as recipients of the new Curt Gowdy Transformative Media Award.

Some of their shows have been more difficult than others. Two days after Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Dwyane Wade broadcast for an hour from inside an empty Staples Center to discuss Bryant’s life and death.

“I’ve never been involved, in the 30 years I’ve been doing this, with a show like that, just where the raw emotions of the evening were just laid out there,” Johnson said Friday.

He said the original plan was for the show to be split into five or six segments, but they didn’t want to cut short the emotional speeches given by their former players, so they cut away from coverage only one time.

Jennifer Hudson will perform a special tribute before the NBA All-Star game to Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the others who were killed in a helicopter crash.

At the show’s end, Johnson and his partners were emotionally spent. Social media made them instantly aware the broadcast resonated.

“We had walked around L.A. that day and had seen all the Kobe jerseys, had seen those people crying and the flowers and everything else,” Johnson said. “And I really think, and my hope is, that people who were out there struggling and trying to come to grips with it were like, ‘This helped.’”

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Memorial tickets

The Lakers announced that tickets for the public memorial for Bryant at Staples Center will be sold through a lottery system. Those wishing to buy tickets must register at https://verifiedfan.ticketmaster.com/kobeandgianna by 10 p.m. on Monday. On Tuesday, fans will be given access codes. If the demand exceeds the number of tickets available, fans will be selected randomly.

The tickets come at three price levels. An unknown number of tickets will be sold for $224 each, another group of tickets will be sold in pairs of two for $224, and a third group will be sold for $24.02 each. Bryant wore No. 24 for the second part of his career while his daughter Gianna, who also died in the crash, wore No. 2 on her basketball teams.

The Lakers said profits from the memorial will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

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