The Golden State Warriors face the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night for the first time this season. That means they’ll be getting their first glimpse of one of the hottest topics of the year: Lonzo Ball.
The former UCLA sensation was drafted second overall by the Lakers, and has had the public eye on him every step of the way. Partially due to his unique style, partially due to his location, and partially due to his loud, confident, speak-it-into-existence father LaVar, Lonzo Ball has had the spotlight firmly attached to him.
For the most part, he’s struggled. His shot hasn’t been falling, and he’s been one of the worst scorers in the league. Still, there have been bright spots: his passing is impressive, his defense is strong, he’s recorded two triple-doubles, and the Lakers have looked decent at times.
But you wouldn’t blame Warriors’ superstar Stephen Curry if he wanted to take some shots at Ball. Established NBA players have a long history of trying to welcome rookies to the league in aggressive ways, and that is only amplified by rookies with hype.
Plus, when Ball was at UCLA, his father had some controversial statements about Curry. In March, LaVar Ball appeared on ESPN’s First Take, and suggested that if Lonzo Ball and Curry switched teams, UCLA would get worse, and the Warriors would get better.
But when asked about Ball, Curry took the high road. He offered encouragement for the struggling rookie, and preached patience for those trying to evaluate him so early.
Some supportive comments from Steph Curry today toward Lonzo Ball, who he faces for the first time tomorrow pic.twitter.com/e1Xr70sNg4— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 28, 2017
If you can’t see the picture, here’s some of what Curry said:
He’s a rookie. He’s going through the ups and down like every rookie has, whether you’re highly touted or not. It’s all a learning experience, trying to find your way and be comfortable . . . I’ve always said he’s a great talent, I think he loves to play basketball, so he’ll be able to fight through that and have a great career. Hope you didn’t judge me off my first 20 games in the league, either.
Curry was also asked about the comments from the Ball family’s patriarch, and had a good laugh.
Steph was asked whether Lavar Ball's comments will give him any extra motivation when playing against Lonzo. Said Steph: "Nah, more comic relief for me. I need that from time to time. "— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) November 28, 2017
Kevin Durant also chimed in on the Lakers’ rookie and, like Curry, had words of encouragement.
KD: "Lonzo is just playing like a rookie...What is he 19? That's what any 19 year old would go through in the pros."— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) November 28, 2017
KD on Lonzo Ball: "It's just a matter of him being in LA, so much odds and scrutiny on him. He's playing like he should be as far as learning the game and adjusting."— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) November 28, 2017
Good on Curry and Durant for taking the high road, and being ambassadors for the next generation of NBA talent.
And with that said . . . if those two are healthy enough to play in Los Angeles, it will be fun to see them go up against Ball.