“The Lakers are back”
After the summer league roster of the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trailblazers 110-98, Magic Johnson had those very same words. Johnson would be interview center-court as the young Lakers celebrated their summer league championship in a poor man’s fashion as to the Golden State Warriors celebration just about a month ago.
Kyle Kuzma was announced the MVP of the Finals game with 30 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball did not play due to an injury in the final game. However, Ball would receive the overall MVP for the Vegas league as he averaged 16.3 points, a summer 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. The 9.3 assists per game is a summer league high and a record that Ball now holds.
The past couple of weeks the feature of ESPN turned into Lonzo Ball. Every game the former UCLA guard played there were eyes on his footwear. His first game was a disappointing 2-15 shooting performance and only scoring five points. The shoes of choice were a pair of Big Baller Brand sneakers. Game two featured Ball in a different pair of shoes and a different result. 11 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds. A triple-double with an all purple pair of Kobe’s.
If you’re accustomed to ESPN’s NBA notifications then make no mistake that those also featured updates on when to expect Ball to play. Actually, my phone buzzed and there is a notification popping up that Lonzo, in fact, would not play in the summer league final. No new shoes, no triple-double and a chance for the Lakers other first-round pick, Kuzma, to show his talent.
Can we all say that one man alone could be responsible for the Laker loving? Mr. LaVar Ball?
With Lonzo dominating headlines whether it was his kick game or his dazzling play his father still remained loud and proud on the sidelines. LaVar kicked off the summer games by announcing his opinion that Lonzo could, in fact, be better than Magic Johnson. Things got hostile as Joel Embiid of the 76ers was caught on social media cursing LaVar. Nonetheless, a rebuttal from LaVar as expected: “when you working for somebody shut your mouth”.
When Lonzo started to sport different brands such as the purple Kobe’s, Adidas, Under Armor and, a pair of Jordan’s then came the questions. LaVar quickly fired back and advised that if the price is right a potential suitor could have the rights to the Lakers rookie. The most recent comments coming from LaVar is the ongoing battle between De’Aron Fox and Lonzo.
“Have you heard about De’Aaron Fox? Hell nah,” LaVar said on Fox Sports Radio . “You can’t hear about him unless he puts my boy’s name in his mouth. He been doing all this stuff and ain’t nobody been talking about him. So he and his dad gotta link themselves to us to be relevant. De’Aaron Fox had a whole season and the only thing they talk about is 39 points against Zo. You don’t put Zo in a sentence, nobody cares about him.”
With ESPN owning the ability to feature summer league games, the sideshow continued with father and son. Let’s not forget that Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr, and Josh Jackson played in this tournament. Although their teams did not make the finals, Ball respectfully was not the only lottery pick dazzling the crowd. Tatum would manage to play in three games and averaged 17.7 points and eight rebounds while shooting 42-percent from the field. Smith Jr. averaged 17.3 points, five rebounds and, two steals in six games.
In the end, the summer league has grown its brand which the NBA proves its forever progressing. Their future stars are giving a promising hope for the start of the season in October.