When Lonzo Ball got away from a potential Los Angeles Lakers fight the other night, he drew both praise and criticism from those watching him closely. The Lakers’ No. 2 draft pick has been having his struggles early on in his first season but showed what some feel was great restraint and maturity. Others feel he may have shown he’s not going to stand up for teammates in a game fight. Here are the latest details on Lonzo and the Lakers’ fight situation and who said what about the rookie’s choice.
As ESPN reported on Saturday, a fight nearly occurred towards the end of Friday’s Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers game. The incident broke out between the Suns’ Tyler Ulis and Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope before the finish of the game, which Phoenix won 122-113. Lonzo Ball was on the court as the two players got in each other’s faces, but he made his way to the bench, walking past the scuffle and only looking back once he was a distance from it. His head coach Luke Walton and teammate Brooke Lopez both talked about Lonzo’s decision with Walton indicating that someone else on the team talked to Lonzo about it.
However, the Lakers coach would not comment on who that was that talked to Lonzo Ball.
“Someone on our team talked with him. It’s all part of the learning process.
“That’s a locker room thing unless they want to share it. What our players talk about behind the doors I’m not going to repeat to the media.”
Brooke Lopez came to the defense of his team’s star rookie, suggesting that it was better for Ball to be a non-participant in any potential fight.
“I thought [Ball] was smart just staying away from it. He was staying out of trouble. I feel like I’m big enough where I can get in the middle of it. I’m not going to do anything crazy. I’m just trying to get everything under control.”
Before he even started playing his first games on the NBA court, Ball came in as a highly-touted prospect who was drawing comparisons to longtime star point guard Jason Kidd. With it still being early in his professional basketball career, some analysts are already questioning Lonzo’s ability to be a true floor general.
Ball’s leadership skills and aggressiveness have come into question because of some of the choices he seems to make, as well as the way he is sometimes a non-participant in the Lakers’ huddle. Some people may also feel his choosing to head towards the bench past a scuffle involving a teammate shows a passive attitude as well, rather than sticking up for his fellow Lakers’ teammates.
However, Ball told the media, “It’s the NBA. People ain’t really gonna fight. I ain’t trying to get no technical.” While not every near-fight situation materializes into punches thrown, there are those situations here or there. Lonzo Ball still has a long way to go in terms of his potential to be a great player. One has to wonder if he’ll make a different decision if someone gets in his face or if a situation with his teammates and opponents escalates more than this particular one did.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]