Los Angeles Lakers: It is time to “Ball” out

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Lonzo Ball (UCLA) celebrates with his father LaVar Ball after being introduced as the number two overall pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Lonzo Ball (UCLA) celebrates with his father LaVar Ball after being introduced as the number two overall pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

With the second pick in the NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select — drab and dreary?

Not quite.

No NBA organization outright claims to want to draft a boring, uninteresting prospect, and the Los Angeles Lakers are no different. Most franchises determine which college player could be beneficial through only their on-the-court abilities. But if you’re the Lakers, somehow, someway, the grandiose nature that surrounds the franchise always seems to attract the most entertaining talent.

Lonzo Ball, the Lakers second overall pick, could never fit in Boston. Nor would he fit in Philadelphia. His spot on the Lakers felt premeditated, predetermined.

Most know the Lakers’ history, comes a track record of championships, trophies, banners, and all the grandeur that accompanies them. The successes of this franchise do not come without its share of boastful and charismatic players.

Larger than Life

From Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal, to even Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest, the Lakers historically have had players with larger than life personalities. With that comes the challenge of being the most popular person at the party.

In the past, the same goes for some Laker coaches. In the 80s it was Pat Riley who was at the helm of the Showtime era with his Armani suits and slicked back hair which influenced Michael Douglas into emulating Pat’s image for his portrayal of Gordon Gecko. Even the great Phil Jackson, the winner of 11 championships, used his press conferences to motivate players indirectly by discussing locker room problems with the media, often which dramatized the reality show that is the “Lake Show.”

While it’s one thing to admire the “bring-your-lunchpail-to-work machine” that is an organization like Spurs, the Lakers’ and their history is obviously more glitz and glamor than blue collar.

In the history of sports, whenever a prospect gets the media attention as the kind Lonzo Ball has gotten, it is received with backlash. The UCLA standout lacks the motor mouth his father Lavar Ball has, and Lavar has a penchant for overemphasizing Lonzo’s potential greatness. To fans and experts alike, this may be unwanted pressure.

From Grant Hill to Tracy McGrady, to Kobe Bryant, and even LeBron James, top prospects have long been advertised as the “next one”. These expectations seemingly get more valid once the media gets a voice. In the case for prospects like LeBron James, his expectations were self-proclaimed.

For Lonzo Ball, his recognition as a formidable player is known because of what he’s done in high school and as a freshman at UCLA. With no other clear-cut superstar on the Lakers, no hall-of-fame alpha male to hinder his progression, Ball’s leadership quality and moxie are exactly what Los Angeles currently needs.

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New Showtime?

The Lakers have lacked a pure point guard for quite some time. The idea of bustling up and down the hardwood with a point guard who can run the floor sounds like a wet-dream to the ears of the Laker faithful.

Thoughts of a high-octane offense surely remind many of the Showtime era of the 80s, then led by the current president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. Magic has witnessed five more banners being raised up since his retirement but also has had to endure the team struggling of recent, something most Laker fans are not used to.

Johnson once stated his thoughts and lent some advice on what the struggling franchise should do:

"“If you’re going to lose, you have to lose, because you can’t be in the middle of the pack. You either have to be great or you have to be bad, to get a good [draft] pick.”"

That comment was in 2014, and remembering those words, the Lakers never looked back, or from their perspective from the bottom of the NBA —never looked up, and continued to lose.

Magic Johnson is widely considered to be the greatest Laker of all-time, greatest point guard of all-time, and some claiming him to be the greatest player of all-time. Jason Kidd, who was usually compared to Magic Johnson, is now the typical comparison for Lonzo Ball.

Lonzo does have an unorthodox and awkward shot release, but at the beginning of Magic’s and Kidd’s career, they also weren’t seen as great shooters and shot better as their careers went on. With the way, Lonzo sees angles on the court and combining that with his precise court vision, those are talents that make elevating the Lakers’ core a possibility. Whether that core is with Paul George, LeBron James, or Jesus Shuttlesworth, is still yet to be known.

Even if Ball ended up not being a first team All-American (AP), or Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, or lead UCLA to a 29-4 record, one can expect his motor-mouthed father to still boast about him. Lavar’s outgoing demeanor not only puts extreme pressure on Lonzo, but it makes some Lakers fans nervous.

LaVar’s Laker Life

The term “pressure makes diamonds,” comes to mind in this case, which is a phrase Laker fans need to embrace. LaVar Ball’s self-assuredness and confidence in his son continue to rub certain people the wrong way. Some see it as him counting chickens before they hatch. For LaVar, he knows his chickens have hatched and is wasting no time throwing his sons into the ring for battle.

LaVar has always been Lonzo’s biggest fan and to a certain degree, his hype man. He comes off as a manager that mirrors WWF managers of the past. LaVar Ball is the Jimmy Hart to Lonzo’s Bret Hart. His made-for-tv antics fit the mold of the outrageous behavior that has usually surrounded the Lakers. People wished LaVar would stop being so loud, but his outlook on Lonzo is fool proof.

Yes, If Lonzo ends up underperforming for the Lakers and turns out being a bust, LaVar is going to hear it. People always want to predict an outcome of a situation, and for LaVar Ball, if he’s wrong about his son, he will have to hear “well that was expected” or “were you surprised?”, but that’s it. He becomes a blip in the memories of fans who expected this to happen and eventually becomes an afterthought.

But if he’s right? Imagine the glory that will come his way. Endorsements deals, max contract extensions, even more exposure. All of that homegrown marketing LaVar has done for more than a decade will only further cement their brand. Hell, even a potential reality television deal could be thrown at the Ball family. It’ll be “Keeping up the Kardashians” versus “The Big Baller Brand Show”. God forbid they make a collaborative episode where LaVar Ball meets Kanye West.

LaVar is playing with house money. If LaVar is wrong, and Lonzo doesn’t ball out, he will still live and die with his outlook of his son. Both share an amazing bond, as shown with Lonzo’s letter to his father, and even the biggest of naysayers cannot get in between the lines.

People forget the boastfulness of Richard Williams, former tennis coach and father of tennis legends, Venus and Serena. Hours of practices and rigorous training that were instilled as 4-year-olds was the blueprint behind William’s aspiration and determination for his daughters to be great. It’s a determination that can be seen throughout the history of famous athletes and their fathers. You could say the same about Earl Woods, or even Archie Manning.

Like LaVar Ball, both Earl Woods and Archie Manning were notorious for putting extreme pressure on their son’s, especially during their accession into professional sports.

Next: Complete 2017 NBA Draft First Round Grades

LaVar Ball doesn’t care what people think, and everyone should share the same sentiment. When asked about what he thinks about his father and his media takes, Lonzo responded how he usually does in his interviews. Cool as a cucumber.

"He’s been like that my whole life. It’s nothing new to me. ..”He’s never going to change for the cameras. He’s been the same his whole life.”"

The Staples Center is ready for a new beginning, and with Lonzo Ball finally a Laker, the spotlight is there for the taking.

In any case, even if Lonzo Ball doesn’t turn out to be the leader the Lakers think have drafted, there’s always D’Angelo Russell.

Oh, wait.