Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers hung around for longer than most probably expected, but ultimately couldn’t stop LeBron James or the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, falling in a 121-112 defeat.
For Ball, the loss was not just any game. It was his first time playing against James, who was his favorite player as a child. Ball mostly acquitted himself well in the contest, finishing with a near triple-double of 13 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in a psuedo-duel with his idol.
James didn’t get near a triple-double, however, instead grabbing the real thing, with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the victory.
After the game, Ball said being on the floor and competing against James was a far different experience than watching on T.V., via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Watching him doesn’t do it justice. It was very hard to stop him. That size, that speed, that’s why he’s the best player in the world right now.”
James has been the best player in the world for quite some time, even if he hasn’t won an MVP Award since 2013. The lack of hardware has presumably been due to voter fatigue than anything else.
It’s also an open secret that the Lakers would very much like to woo James in free agency this summer, even if such an idea is reportedly ‘a longshot.’
Still, it can’t hurt that Ball and the Lakers hung in so tight with a vastly more proven Cavaliers team that also boasts James on its side. One regular season game won’t be what decides James’ next free agency destination if he does decide to leave Cleveland, but it had to at least make James take notice of the impressive young group of talent the Lakers are putting together.
The summer is still a long way off, but if the Lakers get their way, Ball will be getting a lot more chances to see James up close and personal next year. Based on his words Thursday night, he’d certainly appear to relish that opportunity.
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