Heading into this season, Lonzo Ball had the opportunity to learn from LeBron James and Magic Johnson, two of the greatest oversized ball-handlers the game has ever seen. Unfortunately, with Johnson’s departure, one of those great mentors is gone, but according to Ball, the opportunity was priceless.
“In my opinion he’s the best point guard to ever play the game, and that’s what I want to be,” Ball told reporters Wednesday morning during exit interviews. “Any time I needed help I could just go to him, whether it was on the court or off the court, he was there for me.”
Now, Johnson stepping aside the way he did obviously doesn’t mean that relationship has to end outright, but he won’t be around on a regular basis the way he was.
Ball was then asked about the experience of playing alongside James for a full year and Ball, who was thrilled about the opportunity back when James first committed to play for the Lakers, says it was everything he hoped for.
“It was a dream come true for me,” Ball said. “It was everything I thought it would be… (I) looked at him like a big brother, and obviously his IQ is off the charts, so it’s not hard to play with him at all.”
I guess I’ll be the one to point out how in this case, Lonzo’s two mentors deserted him (Magic) and tried to trade him (Magic and LeBron). That’s awkward.
But again, in theory, this story is still being written. While Johnson has stepped away from his official role, he could help Ball in many of the same ways he was before, and now without the possibility of having to trade him.
For now, Ball and James are still teammates. Seeing as Lonzo is coming off yet another injury-riddled season, it doesn’t make sense for the Lakers to trade him right now, as they’d be doing so at the point of his lowest value. So for at least the foreseeable future, that relationship can continue, and Lonzo can hopefully take advantage.
The first key here is for him to get healthy enough to do so. Once that’s taken care of and the Lakers have their front office back in order, everyone can start to move forward.