Los Angeles coach Luke Walton tells the story of coming to Lakers training camp as a rookie in 2003, when his father Bill was an outspoken television color commentator on national NBA games, and having multiple veterans basically tell him “I’m going to make your life hell because of your father.” But it didn’t really work out that way. Walton proved he belonged, found a role on a team that went to the NBA Finals, and fit in. He wasn’t really hazed more than any other rookie.
Lonzo Ball feels much the same way. Sure, his father LaVar Ball has courted media attention with the outlandish, but the son does not expect to be punished for the sins of his father.
“Nah. Speaking for my teammates, they already know how he is so it’s never been a problem, and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Ball told NBCSports.com.
In fact, the younger Ball says the new “Ball in the Family” reality series on Facebook is already changing the opinions of some about his father and his family.
“I think they’re already seeing it because I get a lot of feedback on the show, and a lot more people are seeing the person that he really is,” Ball said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy people get to see the person I have known my whole life.”
That may be true, but you can bet some of the stars LaVar took shots at — Stephen Curry, LeBron James and others — may do a little stare down with dad jogging back upcourt after a big play against the Lakers this season. It’s not wise to provide the NBA’s best players more motivation.
None of it seems to phase Lonzo. The younger Ball just does what he does, not reacting to his father. For example, LaVar said that Steve Nash was too short and slow to teach his son anything, but Lonzo didn’t see it that way at all.
“He’s an MVP, you know, one of the best point guards who ever played, so anything that he taught me is definitely useful,” Ball said. “And just that one day alone I learned a lot about coming off a screen, guarding, there’s a lot of stuff he helped and I appreciate him taking time out of his day to do that because I know he didn’t have to.”
Working on how to better take advantage of screens was something coach Walton wanted Ball to focus on this summer, and few have ever been better and using their dribble as a weapon to create space and angles off a pick as Nash. Another area of focus this summer was getting stronger and working on conditioning before the marathon grind of the NBA season — Nash could help with that, too. He was one of the NBA’s early prophets on the topics of diet and sleep for players.
“We talked about nutrition, keeping your body right in the training room and stuff, lifting weights the right way, so he helped me on more things than just basketball,” Ball said. “He helped me with my all around game… speaking for myself, I haven’t really taken care of my body like that before because I didn’t have to. Hearing it from him, it definitely made a lot of sense and I’m looking forward to adding that to my daily routine.”
One big question out there has been Lonzo’s shoes — he wore a different pair almost nightly during Summer League. During our conversation — which you can hear all of on the PBT Podcast — I asked him what planned to wear opening night against the Clippers? A pair of his brother’s LaMelo’s? Lonzo laughed and said he’s stick with his own shoes, the ZO2.
Lonzo is just going to do his thing. Like always. So far that has worked well for him.