LeBron James and Lonzo Ball shared the basketball court for the first time in their careers, and there’s certainly hope within the Los Angeles Lakers franchise that it will be far from the last time they do. The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to finish off the Lakers smoothly Thursday night, with LeBron adding another triple-double to his career total.
The narrative surrounding the game was all about Lonzo and LeBron, with the nationally televised game putting an even brighter spotlight on the two. That’s the kind of attention James has had his entire career, even when he was making a name for himself as that-high-school-kid-with-a-shoe-deal.
“I can’t relate to that. I’ve never had any type of pressure coming into the league before,” James deadpanned after the game when asked if he feels he can “relate” to the expectations surrounding Lonzo.
“Of course I can. I know everything that he’s going through, so of course I can relate.”
Ball put up a strong showing in front of the player he grew up idolizing and wanting to play like, just two rebounds away from adding in a triple-double of his own. There’s plenty for Lonzo to be happy about after tallying 13 points, 11 assists and eight boards against one of the top teams in the league, with plenty of pressure to perform being applied, all while ending the night with some big compliments from James.
“It’s always team. Passes the ball, pushes the ball up the floor, someone that you want to play with,” James said of what he likes about Lonzo as a basketball player. “This is a team game, everybody gets so caught up in this whole individual thing so the team game gets so overlooked...
“I’m not going to go there, he’s a really good player,” LeBron said, abruptly halting his train of thought.
The link between James and Ball is thin-at-most in reality, but the perception that there’s more to it than that in the grand scheme persists. When LeBron showed up to watch Lonzo play during Las Vegas Summer League. When LeBron wished Lonzo a happy birthday approximately 400,000 custom “JAMES” Lakers jerseys* were ordered (*not really).
Everything James does is put under a microscope, especially when it comes to Lonzo and the Lakers. That’s something LeBron has put in the furthest recesses of his mind.
“I don’t see the reaction, because I don’t get involved in it. I don’t do to it to get a reaction, I do it because he’s said over and over since he was growing up who he modeled his game after, and who was his favorite player, and it was me, and I was humbled by that. So me wishing him a happy birthday was kind of a salute back to him.
“I see all the stupid noise that happens, I can’t buy a place in LA, I can’t live in LA, it’s funny noise, but I don’t get involved in it because when I post things I don’t look at comments. I’m so far removed from the white noise,” James said.
Much like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant shared a few short weeks ago, LeBron is the latest NBA superstar with a very optimistic and positive outlook on Lonzo’s career.
Not a bad way for Ball and the Lakers to wrap up their four-game road trip. Not bad at all.