Lakers Reserve Uses IST Prize Money to Fulfill 10-Year Promise to His Mom

Christian Wood, Lakers

Getty Cam Reddish #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers slaps hands with Christian Wood #35 after his basket and a foul against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Los Angeles Lakers reserve big man Christian Wood fulfilled a decade-old promise he made to his mother, Jeanette Stewart.

On New Year’s Day, Wood proudly shared on X (formerly Twitter) the house he bought as a gift to his mom with the help of the $500,000 cash prize he received from the Lakers’ In-Season Tournament title run.

“Life goal [checked],” Wood said. “[I] promised my mom at 18 with no money I would get her the house of her dreams before I’m 30. Fast forward to now, I did that!!! I love you [infinity emoji]!”

After Wood went undrafted in 2015, it was his mother who encouraged him to not give up on his NBA dream.

Stewart comforted his distraught son who came to her with the bad news.

“He said, ‘Mom, I’m sorry, I’m a failure.’ I said, ‘You’re not a failure. That doesn’t make you a failure because you went on undrafted,’” Stewart said in a USA Today story in 2016. “‘Let me tell you, God works in mysterious ways and has a plan for you. I said what you’re going to do is put your head up high. Put your head up high and wipe away those tears, because from this point you’re going to go forth in your career and you’re going to be OK.’”

Wood worked his way up, toggling between the NBA and NBA D-League (now G League), until catching his big break in Detroit during the 2019-20 season. Following a then-career-best season with the Pistons, he finally got hit his big payday — a 3-year deal worth $41 million with the Houston Rockets via sign-and-trade.

After his dismal season with the Dallas Mavericks last season, Wood signed a 2-year, $5.7 million deal with the Lakers. He averaged 7.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in their unbeaten run in the In-Season Tournament.

Ex-Lakers Big Man Signs with Philippine Team

Former Lakers big man Dwight Howard found a new lease on life on his basketball career in the Philippines.

After his failed comeback attempt with the Golden State Warriors in the offseason following an overseas stint in Taiwan, the 38-year-old Howard is joining the Strong Group Athletics Philippines for a 2-week tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The former eight-time NBA All-Star will team up with Andray Blatche and Andre Roberson to power the Philippine-based ballclub in the Dubai International Basketball Championship which will run from January 19 to 28.

Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported the news of Howard’s signing with Strong Group Athletics Philippines.

NBA Exec Says Lakers Blew Last NBA Draft

One Western Conference executive told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that the Lakers blew the last NBA Draft after passing up on former UCLA star Jaime Jaquez, Jr.

“I know there were some people in that organization who wanted Jaime Jaquez to stay in California and be a Laker,” the league executive told Deveney. “He was the perfect role player for what they needed, he is a tough kid, he is a grinder. You could watch him last year and just tell he was ready to chip in for a good NBA team. The Lakers like to use their picks to take big swings and not the safe bet, and that is how they were looking at Jalen. But they needed guys who could play now. And look at what Jaquez is doing. They blew it, for sure.”

The Lakers drafted point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino at No. 17 with the Heat stealing Jaquez one pick after.

The 20-year-old Hood-Schifino has only appeared in seven games, scoring a total of 18 points. On the other hand, the 22-year-old Jaquez has emerged as one of the top rookies, averaging 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals in 33 games so far, including nine starts.

The Lakers will get to see what they missed up close when Jaquez and the Heat visit the Lakers today.


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