LOS ANGELES — LaVar Ball fired back at Patrick Beverley after the LA Clippers guard shouted an obscenity as he walked into the locker room that was presumably about Lonzo Ball, who was making his debut as point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After the Clippers routed the Lakers 108-92 Thursday and held Ball to three points, four assists and nine rebounds in his debut, Beverley was heard screaming, “Weak ass m—–f—–. Bring him out on the court with me and I will tear his ass up,” as he walked off the court and into the locker room.
“Yeah, you shut the m—–f—– down,” LaVar Ball told ESPN after the game. “And your check still ain’t going to go no higher than what it is. Yeah, you shut him down. OK … Who is Patrick Beverley? He played all last year and nobody said nothing about him. Now we are looking at your first game. Why? Because Lonzo’s name is attached to it.
“So you got to be [all hard],” Ball added, as he slapped his fists together. “Let’s see what you do the next five games, if you are going to be pumped up toward everybody like that and go back to your 0-for-5 shooting and your two or three rebounds. Nobody is going to care about you. But you put my son’s name in it, and you put my name in it, now you got some action and you got some people talking.”
Told that Beverley didn’t say Lonzo Ball’s name when he screamed on his way into the locker room, LaVar Ball said it didn’t matter. He said Beverley tried staring him down in his courtside seats near the Clippers bench during the fourth quarter.
“You ain’t got to say it by name because I saw the way he looked at me when he was on the side of the bench,” he said. “He was going to see if I can get eye contact. I just looked at him like I looked right past him because he’s nobody. You talking to Big Baller.
“One game. OK, you still don’t have your own shoe, you are still not your own boss,” he continued. “I know why you are looking at me. And you want to tell me that I got your son! Well I got two more you can try to get some of, too. They will be here, don’t worry about it. I don’t worry about one game.”
The Lonzo Ball era began with the rookie point guard struggling with his shot and missing 5 of 6 shots. Beverley, as he likes to do, picked up the rookie well past half-court many times. The Lakers expected and warned Ball that Beverley would test the rookie, who might have been surrounded by more hype than any other rookie.
“Look, I can’t even imagine being him right now,” team president Magic Johnson said of Ball and all the attention surrounding him before the game. “Being an L.A. kid, this has got to be crazy. Always wanted to play for the Lakers and he gets his first game tonight? Wow. … Now it is for real now. It is no exhibition. This is real.
“[And] he is up against a tough dude, that is what I am telling him. Patrick Beverley is no joke,” Johnson added. “He is one of the best defenders that we have, and he is also one of the best at playing mind games, too. Once he’s got you, mentally he attacks you. He is almost like Draymond [Green]. They talk to you. So he has to be really ready and stay strong and stay into his game. He is going up against a pro that really knows how to play.”
At one point, Beverley shoved Ball down at half court and drew a foul in the first half. The rookie got Beverley with a nice crossover at one point when Beverley went for a steal and whiffed. But later in the game, Beverley stripped Ball clean near half court for a layup. Beverley finished with 10 points and two steals, while Ball had two turnovers.
“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said after the game. “I told him after the game, due to all the riff-raff that his dad brings that he is going to get a lot of people coming at him. He has to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game. But what a better way to start than 94 feet guarding him.”
Ball said he liked the shots he got but couldn’t make them. Ball tried to impact the game in other ways by hitting the glass often for rebounds. He blocked Blake Griffin from behind on one play and had one stretch in the third quarter where he looked more comfortable by dishing three assists.
Ball, who was held out of the fourth quarter with the game out of hand, didn’t have any problem with the way Beverley played him.
“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball, who estimated he had at least 40 friends and family at the game. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.
“We got blown out, so I didn’t play too well.”
After the game, LaVar Ball huddled with his son as they do after every game to go over what happened and how the point guard can improve. Lonzo Ball getting off to a slow start is not something new. The rookie struggled in his Las Vegas Summer League debut before leading the Lakers to a summer league championship and becoming the MVP.
“Beverley is going to test [people],” LaVar Ball said. “He didn’t do nothing. But it is a better story. Lonzo don’t even care about Beverley. You never care about Lonzo versus Westbrook, Lonzo versus Harden, Lonzo versus Beverley. Who cares? It is a team game.”