The headlines across the NBA lands over the weekend all echo the same booming words: Lonzo Ball triple-double. That he beat the old record, held by LeBron James, by a mere five days only adds to the intrigue.
Ball was adamant that the stat line, and NBA record, meant nothing to him Saturday night. All he wanted was to help his team snap the losing streak they’re now three games deep into.
“It don't matter to me to be honest, I just wanted to win tonight. I thought we put ourselves in good position to get it, but it didn’t happen,” Ball said after the game.
Lonzo also tacked his first triple-double to his career in front of Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, who Ball has drawing comparisons to before he ever played a minute as an NBA player. While Lonzo deflected from his individual accolade, Kidd himself heaped praise on the up-and-coming guard.
“He's a very talented player. He got off to a great start shooting the ball, and his strengths again finding his teammates and being able to rebound the ball and make the game easy for his teammates, and he did that at a very high level tonight,” Kidd said after the game.
“Ball can play. He's going to make his teammates better, he's going to make his team better. Triple-double is going to be the norm for him, he's going to fill up the stat sheets. We just have to give him time, we're trying to put him in a microwave and speed him up. He's going to make mistakes, he's going to have bad nights, but he competes.”
Narratives and storylines are part of the equation that makes the NBA such a fascinating league to cover, but ultimately it’s the Xs and Os that are playing out on the court 82 games a season. Ball was focused on that fact when discussing his big game.
“Just came out aggressive. They were blitzing a lot so it makes the roll pretty much open if you pass it quick enough, and then when they went under I just shot it,” Lonzo said.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton agreed with that sentiment, crediting Ball’s ability to read the floor for the dime-dropping that occurred in Milwaukee.
“They like to blitz a lot of those high picks, and Lonzo's got great court vision, so he was reading it. A couple times they went under and he made some threes when they did that,” Walton said.
Shouts to Kyle Kuzma’s moving screen, but that’s the gist of it.
The sensationalism of Ball, and his first triple-double, is certainly something that leaves people recoiling. He’s become one of the most polarizing players in the NBA just a few weeks into wearing an NBA jersey, and that won’t change any time soon.
The good thing for Lakers fans is that, by all accounts, Ball’s focus remains on being a basketball player at his core. He beat the Bucks’ defense by playing the game the right way, and playing the game the right way is exactly why many Lakers fans are far from panicking over the narratives sprouting about Lonzo.
Ball himself remains unfazed, and even breaking a record held by LeBron meant nothing to him without the attached win. For as high-in-the-sky expectations and buzz around Lonzo is, both of his feet remain planted firmly on the ground.
For a team that needs full investment on the process of improving on the floor, the Lakers couldn’t ask for a more focused leader.