While the Los Angeles Lakers were connected to multiple prospects heading into the 2017 NBA Draft, many expected them to select Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick. Seeking a pass-first point guard, they selected Ball after he completed just one season at UCLA.
Ball endured an up-and-down first season, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team despite only appearing in 52 games due to multiple injuries. Ball went into what Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson referred to as the biggest summer of his career.
Some of the optimism that Ball would make leaps in his progression was dampened with news he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee. Nonetheless, he’s expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of training camp.
The roster Ball is now a member of is drastically different than the one he was drafted to. The Lakers of course signed LeBron James, then added veterans Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley to the fold.
For Ball, it represents a rare opportunity to play alongside his childhood idol. And it’s that affinity for James that LaVar Ball believes has led to Kobe Bryant not viewing his son in the best light, via Stadium’s “Sauce and Shram” show:
“That’s why Kobe don’t like him that much. Because he said, ‘I like LeBron.’ LeBron’s always been his guy, though.”
LaVar’s comments are seemingly in response to Bryant questioning why the Lakers didn’t instead draft Jayson Tatum. The quote was passed along by Pure Sweat CEO Drew Hanlen, who added a qualifier of sorts by explaining Bryant made the remark after being shown film of how similar of a player Tatum is to him.
It’s unclear, but likely, Bryant’s remarks were tongue in cheek. Meanwhile, although Ball identifies more closely with James, he’s expressed admiration for the five-time champion as well.