The Hawks phenom speaks to Boardroom about appearing in a new Bodyarmor sports drink ad alongside his younger brother, the legacy of Kobe Bryant, and his maturation on the court.
Halfway through the new Bodyarmor ad spot entitled “One More,” a boy hits a long 3-pointer over Trae Young at the buzzer, puts his hands over his elbows in the Atlanta Hawks superstar’s mock cold, shivering celebration, and asks, “one more, old man?”
That boy happens to be Young’s real-life younger brother, Timothy, who stars as part of the campaign along with James Harden, Naomi Osaka, Mookie Betts, Sabrina Ionescu, Dustin Johnson, Baker Mayfield, and Ally Love.
“It’s pretty funny. An amazing moment for my parents,” Young told Boardroom. “I’m looking forward to everybody else seeing it, too, because it’s really cool.”
Young became a Bodyarmor endorser in the summer of 2020, about six months after the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant. Bryant invested $6 million in Bodyarmor in 2013, a stake that came to be worth $400 million in November 2021 when the company sold to Coca-Cola at an $8 billion valuation.
“The relationship with Kobe and just how much he cared about the brand really gives me an extra push to care even more about it,” Young said. “I also like to align myself with things I’m very passionate about, and I feel very passionately about this brand.”
The 23-year-old Young is similarly passionate about the Hawks and his play on the court, finishing the regular season with career highs in points (28.4) and assists (9.7) per game while hitting a career-best 46% of his shots overall and 38.2% on eight 3-pointers attempted per contest. He played in 76 out of a possible 82 games, allowing him to lead the NBA in both total points and total assists, a rare feat for any player.
Asked how he’s improved in. 2021-22, Young said he’s learning more about the game each year.
“Every game I’m playing, I’m getting more and more reps,” he said. “I’m just continuing to learn more and the learn speed of the game and the pace of the game, which is helping.”
After entering the league at age 19 as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Oklahoma, the 6-foot-1 Young said that while he could still be a better leader on and off the floor, he’ll only improve over time as he has on the court.
The progress he’s made as a scorer and distributor has come despite the target on his back growing significantly larger. He became a Reggie Miller-esque villain in New York after a dominant performance in the Hawks’ five-game series win over the Knicks in the first round on their way to the Eastern Conference finals.
Overcoming and silencing the haters hasn’t always been Young’s mindset, but it’s something he’s had to embrace.
“There’s always been a different excuse every year or a different reason why for me,” Young said about his detractors. “I think it’s just how it is and how it’s always been for me.”
Aside from endorsements with Bodyarmor, Adidas, Old Spice, NBA 2K, Tissot, Chipotle, eBay, and Fortnite, among others, Young is additionally an investor in companies including Overtime, Starstock, and Hyperice. He said he’ll focus on other investments during the offseason, including a possible NFT project.
While Young wishes the Hawks were higher in the standings — Atlanta hosts Charlotte on Wednesday in the No. 9 vs No. 10 play-in game, with the winner facing the loser of Tuesday’s Brooklyn-Cleveland game for the No. 8 seed and a first-round date with the Miami Heat—he thinks the team still has a good chance to carry its momentum into the postseason. Asked what he would consider a successful 2021-22 season, Young said getting back to the playoffs and seeing what happens.
“Last year, we wanted to make a run and even though nobody believed in us, we thought we could make a run and we did,” he said. “Once we had the opportunity to get back into the playoffs again, that’s the mindset. To make another run.”
Young got the last laugh in the shoot, answering Timothy’s request for one more with a deep three swished from the top of the key. Trae and the Hawks will be hoping that their playoff run ends as successfully as the Bodyarmor shoot.