The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t completely set on drafting UCLA guard Lonzo Ball after seeing his initial workout. There were rumblings that he had looked tired and that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka could be seriously considering selecting Kansas’ Josh Jackson or Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox instead. That’s when Ball scheduled a second workout and sealed the deal.
Instead of trekking back to the Lakers practice facility, this time Ball brought Johnson and Pelinka into his world to see how he trains and get a chance to interact with his family. In an interview with Spectrum SportsNet, Johnson admitted that he was impressed by Ball, and walked away from the second workout confident that he was the player for them:
“It was really important that we had that second look. I wasn’t satisfied with the first look. He had to win us over. So we went out there saying, ‘Clean slate, lets go really see what the young man is all about. I want to see the dynamic between LaVar and Lonzo. That was important to me as well. Is he his own man? Very important.”
“We saw the workout. Running the hills, and we were like, ‘Wow! This guy is in incredible shape.’ Then we saw the young man become his own young man doing his own workout after that. Talking for himself. We said, ‘Okay, we see the leadership qualities now that we didn’t see before. Then LaVar impressed by the fact that with the cameras off he was just being dad. He was just a proud father of three incredible sons and a great husband. I said, ‘Okay, I see what it is now.’ I walked away saying, ‘That’s our guy!’ I was so happy that he was because we wanted him so bad.”
It’s no surprise that Johnson needed a little convincing, as a draft pick is an extremely valuable thing and it’s critical that the right selection is made. It’s also commendable that Ball seized the opportunity to show what he needed to in order to seal the deal for his hometown Lakers to draft him.
Now, the pressure will be on Ball to turn the franchise around. The hope is that his passing ability will become contagious, just as it did at UCLA. There will be growing pains, but Johnson now has the pass-first point guard, and leader, that he wants to run the team.