The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the largest and most-followed brands in all of professional sports. And that spotlight has only gotten bigger this season when they selected Lonzo Ball second overall out of UCLA in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Partially due to his talent and partially due to his outspoken father LaVar Ball, Lonzo has had a media horde following him wherever he’s been, a phenomenon that only intensified once he was spoken onto the Lakers’ roster.
While early on Ball would say that the attention (much of it negative, due to his shooting struggles) didn’t bother him, it appeared to be getting to him at least a little bit judging by both his play and demeanor on the court.
According to Kevin Ding of Lakers.com, Lonzo’s manager, Darren Moore, noticed this change and took Lonzo aside and told him just have fun and stop worrying so much.
Ball took the advice and ran with it, and has seen it pay off:
“NBA, that’s the biggest spotlight I’ve ever been in before. It was crazy at first,” Ball said. “I just had to take a step back. Get back to what I know: having fun.
“After that conversation we had, I just stepped back. Put all the stats aside. Put the record aside.”
This is probably the right approach. While it’s a positive that Ball cares so much about his stats and the team’s record, he is also just a 20-year-old. There is only so much difference he can make in his first season as an NBA player, no matter how much he and his father say age doesn’t matter because Lonzo understands winning.
Before suffering a sprained left shoulder that forced him to miss the last six games, Ball began to play with the quiet confidence and have the impact many expected.
For this season, the main thing that matters is that Ball continues to make progress. So far he’s done that, and he’ll get his next chance to show it when the Lakers host the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
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