It’s only fitting that the first franchise player drafted into Magic Johnson’s era of running the Los Angeles Lakers is a point guard. Perhaps it’s even more fitting that their games have some similarities, with Ball’s prolific passing talents earning comparisons to other maestros like Jason Kidd and “The Magic Man” himself.
Lonzo’s impressive display of passing throughout Las Vegas Summer League only added to the hype of his ability to orchestrate an offense. Add legendary Lakers color commentator Stu Lantz to the list of believers Ball’s made already.
“The excitement level is really high again. Obviously, Lonzo has had a huge part of that. Seeing him in the summer league, there’s a certain mental part of the game that you can’t teach. He has an understanding of how to play,” Lantz told Bryce Miller of the San Diego Tribune in a profile on the 30-year Lakers broadcast veteran.
Lantz has the unique distinction of having watched plenty of Magic during his playing days up close and personal, joining the Lakers’ broadcasting team in 1987. He’s now heading to the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame, selected for the honor last week. The induction ceremony will be held next January.
It doesn’t hurt that Lantz had the chance to learn from one of the greatest voices in sports history in Chick Hearn, while watching a few NBA championship runs with Magic. Stu, like many other Lakers fans, sees some Magic in Lonzo’s game.
“When you’re a passer first, everybody’s your friend. It’s very similar to Magic Johnson. Everybody loved him. One, he was a great guy. But he was also looking to pass the ball. That makes you pretty popular,” Lantz told Miller.
Is that a big shadow for Ball to chase? Absolutely, but it’s clear his passing abilities and style will have him inching his way toward greatness on the court one assist at a time.