Hey everyone, the circus is coming to town.
In a quirk in the NBA schedule, the Warriors will play the Los Angeles Lakers twice in five days. That’s tomorrow in Los Angeles and Friday in Oakland.
This will give Warriors fans a chance to check in on the progress of the Lakers’ sensational rookie.
The 6-9 surprise out of Utah is averaging over 16 points a game, attacking the basket and shooting roughly 50 percent.
But you haven’t heard much about him because the ongoing soap opera of Lonzo Ball and his braggadocious father LaVar has sucked all the air out of the room. The whole scene has gone from hilarious to cringe-inducing and back again five times — and this is only the Lakers’ 28th game.
Father LaVar Ball, as you know, is a combination of P.T. Barnum and President Donald Trump. He may say three outrageous things before breakfast.
“I tell my boys, ‘Somebody got to be better than Michael Jordan,” LaVar has said. “Why not you?”
This created predictions that chaos would ensue if the Lakers chose Lonzo with the second pick of the draft. They did and it has.
First, the thinking went, LaVar would be a constant meddlesome, havoc-inducing presence. He has been. He’s constantly on TV, ranting and promoting himself. The Lakers finally held a meeting, asking him to tone it down.
He listened, then went to New York last week to see his son play the Knicks. Wearing a bright red shirt, he repeatedly leaped out of his courtside seat, waving his arms to the crowd. He also, reportedly, called out suggestions to Lonzo during the game. He’s incorrigible.
The second prediction was that Lonzo would face prodigious blowback. Players would go out of their way to embarrass and belittle him.
He certainly has his haters. Last Wednesday LeBron James went to the Cleveland Clinic to visit sick kids. There’s a video of one little boy high-fiving LeBron-a-Claus and asking, “Can you dunk on Lonzo for me?”
But around the league it doesn’t seem as if that’s happened. By all accounts, Lonzo is a good guy. There’s no drama and he is clearly eager to set up his teammates with passes. After beating the Lakers last week in Cleveland, James took a minute on the floor with Lonzo, appearing to offer advice, but declined to say what it was.
“There’s enough noise out there already with Zo,” James said.
Both Steph Curry and Kevin Durant have been sympathetic, saying Lonzo is going through typical rookie adjustments.
There’s even a pretty clear effort in the national media to pump Lonzo up a little. Announcers praise his (admittedly deft) passing and point out that his average assists, rebounds and blocks are very close to what James totaled in his first year.
Fine. But here’s the problem. James also averaged 20.9 points a game that year.
Lonzo Ball is not the Lakers’ leading scorer. Or second. Or third. Or in the top five. He’s sixth with 9.1 points per game. The loss to Cleveland marked the 26th time in 27 games that he has shot below 50 percent.