There are very few players more qualified to mentor Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball than the team’s own president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson.
While Johnson didn’t come into the league with the unprecedented fanfare that Ball has, in large part due to it being vastly different eras, he still entered the NBA and exceeded them right from the jump, winning an NBA championship in his rookie season and never looking back.
Because of those similarities, it was widely expected that Johnson would take Ball under his wing personally, but so far there hasn’t been a lot of information about what form their relationship has taken.
Or at least, there wasn’t until Johnson talked about how he plans to mentor Ball during an interview with Mike Bresnahan that will air in full on Saturday but was previewed before the Lakers’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We have our conversations, and we’re going to have a film session together. I was waiting for about 25-30 games, after that then we’re going to sit down, point-guard-to-point-guard, and just hang out, watch film and ask him what does he see, and I’ll tell him what I see, and then how do we correct this or that. Or how I might say, ‘Hey you’re doing this so well we don’t need to work on that but maybe these are a couple things we can work on.’ So I’m here for him, and not just for basketball. I’m also here just to be a listening ear. I think he needs a guy just to sit and listen to him and just talk. I’ve never seen a guy with this type of pressure on him, and you can’t… I think a guy like Lonzo needs me to say, ‘Hey, I’m your friend as well as your boss, but look at me as a boss first and let’s also sit here and just rap. If you don’t want to talk about basketball, we won’t talk about basketball. Let’s just talk about life, and what can I help you with off the court as well as on the court.”
Johnson connecting with Ball over more than basketball could be huge for their relationship going forward, and might allow him to reach Ball better when he does have basketball feedback for his young point guard.
The sentiment of being available to Ball beyond matters pertaining to the hardwood is one Lakers head coach Luke Walton recently expressed. Walton also commended Ball for handling off-the-court distractions and pressure of running point guard for the Lakers.
When exactly Ball and Johnson will sit down together remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see how quickly those types of sessions begin to make a difference in Ball’s game.
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