Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball has had the target on his back since entering the league this season, thanks in large part to the boastful claims made by his father, LaVar.
In contrast to his forthright parent, the 20-year-old point guard is soft-spoken and unassuming, and the league’s premier superstar has surely taken notice.
Ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first match-up against the Lakers this season, LeBron James commended the youngster from UCLA for his “selflessness.”
“The kid hasn’t said anything. It’s been everybody else. So, I love his humility. He goes out, every time someone asks him a question, he says, ‘This is not about me, man. I just want to win. I don’t care about what I did,’” James said. “I seen he had a triple-double one game and they lost. He was like, ‘I don’t care. We lost.’”
The three-time NBA champion also recalled being in the same boat when he first entered the league as a basketball prodigy out of high school in 2003.
“So, can I draw any parallel to my experience? I mean, of course. I guess when you’re drafted to a franchise, they want you to kind of be the savior. And it takes a while. I mean, listen, man, this guy is 20-something games into his pro career. S-**t doesn’t happen [that fast],” James said.
“Here it goes again, it goes back to my instant oatmeal : Everybody wants it right away. Can he play ball? Absolutely. The kid can play ball. Do guys want to play with him? Absolutely, because it’s a guy who is not about him. It’s about the success of the team. And he gives the ball up, and he passes the ball, and there’s energy behind the ball.”
In his first 26 games, Ball has been marred with inconsistency issues—particularly with his ongoing shooting woes—shooting at a horrendous 32.7 percent from the field and,even worse, from beyond the arc at 25.8 percent.
Still, James says it’s quite too early to label Ball for his shortcomings and knows he has so much more time to polish his game.
“No one knows what he’s going to become,” James said. “No one knows with anybody when you’re drafted. I don’t care if you’re drafted 60 or you’re drafted first. Did anybody imagine that Isaiah Thomas would be the player that he is today? Being the ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ that they call it? Did anybody know that I would be the player I am? Everybody can think and say and do these things and say, ‘Oh, he has this (attribute) and that (attribute).’” Khristian Ibarrola /ra
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