first_imgBut if there’s bitterness about being dealt away, Ingram doesn’t let it show. The way he sees it, there is no “Brandon Ingram, All-Star” without those first three seasons in which he had to grind through growing pains.“They made my dream come true getting to this league,” he said. “That’s the only thing I dreamed of as a little kid. I never thought about which team I’d go to. Making it to the NBA and them being the team that drafted me, I always thank them. They started everything for me. Being in L.A., going through challenges, going through everything that I went through. It definitely made me who I am.”Ingram narrowly avoided awkwardness with a pair of Lakers who also reported to the depository: Dwight Howard arrived shortly after Ingram to help out, while Davis’ service was upstairs in a private room closed to media.But Ingram seemed like he wouldn’t have been flustered anyway. He thinks one of the reasons he is here now is because he stopped listening to outside noise.“I don’t listen to everything else that’s going on outside my circle,” he said. “I just want to prove to myself how good I am.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersJust 10 months ago, one would have been hard-pressed to guess that Ingram would get himself to this level, this quickly. His last season with the Lakers ended abruptly in March, when a medical evaluation discovered a blood clot in his right shoulder that had to be surgically removed. The medical evaluation at the time was that Ingram would fully recover, but doubt is a tricky thing: The term “blood clot” doesn’t tend to be well-received by NBA front offices.But Ingram, 22, didn’t just recover – he took a leap forward. Generally considered the most valuable of the many assets the Lakers traded to New Orleans to acquire Anthony Davis, Ingram has averaged 24.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and shot 40 percent from 3-point range for New Orleans. Even with rookie Zion Williamson now healthy, the Pelicans (23-32) have work to do to make a late run at a playoff spot, but Ingram’s All-Star selection by the league’s coaches is a validation of his commitment to the recovery process.Leaving the Lakers and getting a new opportunity might have helped, he acknowledged, but he believes the injury gave him more appreciation for the game.“That helped me lock in and take advantage of every bit of time that I had on the basketball floor,” he said. “And I’m enjoying it every time I go out there.”The Lakers have already played the Pelicans twice, winning both times. Ingram was the best player among the former Lakers both times, scoring 45 combined points in the two meetings. CHICAGO — Among stacks of produce in a warehouse in a Chicago suburb, Brandon Ingram wore nets over his hair and his beard and dropped grapefruits the size of softballs into a bag.He smiled as he chatted with the young volunteers alongside him, as they packaged fruit in the Greater Chicago Food Depository – one of the NBA’s many charity events across Chicago as a part of All-Star Weekend. It was a mandated service event for Ingram, but he was more than happy to be there.He’s happy to be in Chicago at all this weekend, his first as a certified All-Star. With the Pelicans, the former No. 2 overall draft pick of the Lakers has realized a dream that he’s had for a long time. He watches old clips of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in his spare time – and now, he feels a step closer to the players he idolized growing up.“I think this is a great accomplishment for me and my family and a true blessing to me,” Ingram said. “And it just shows all the hard work that’s been put in, the years of me playing basketball. I’ve watched pretty much all the All-Star games of the past years, pretty much since I’ve been living.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img