When the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, they knew that they would also have to deal with his outspoken father, LaVar Ball.
It hasn’t always been easy, with the Ball family patriarch more than willing to share his opinions in the media, but so far the Lakers have managed to make the situation work. That said, they went into a massively important offseason during which they focused on signing marquee talent.
LeBron James and Paul George were believed to be at the top of their list. And with James joining the picture, he instantly becomes the biggest star in the city and shines an even brighter spotlight on the Lakers franchise.
Prior to that decision, LaVar stated in an interview on ESPN L.A. Radio that the Lakers would still be Lonzo’s team:
“Everybody got made when I said yes, bring LA-Bron, that’s what I call him because he’s coming. [Ball] makes everybody better. That’s what his job is. That’s what he does. That’s his characteristic. Brandon Ingram, best time he ever had in his life. Julius Randle, been here for a while, best time he ever played. What’s the key element? They brought that Ball boy in. And then they say, ‘It’s LeBron’s team.’ No, this is Lonzo’s team. He’s coming over here. We ain’t going to Cleveland.”
Despite what LaVar says, it would be difficult for the Lakers to truly be considered “Lonzo’s team” with James in town.
After all, teams have been built around James since he entered the league in 2003, and even at 33 years old he dominated the NBA playoffs. James extended his unprecedented streak of reaching the NBA Finals to eight by dispatching of the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Lonzo’s style of play, where the ball never stops moving, can indeed be infectious and help set the tone for his team. But to take control of the team away from one of the greatest players to lace them up is simply not realistic.
There was the matter of whether or not James would want to play with Lonzo, or if he would be a factor in the Lakers breaking up their young core with trades to make them more of a win-now team. On that front, LaVar argued the Lakers would never be able to trade Lonzo.
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