“Heck yeah!” LaVar told ESPN while watching his son make his Lakers debut in a Las Vegas Summer League game against the Clippers on Friday. “Lonzo and LeBron? Come on man! That’s real deal. You don’t want to give him the best player in the world. You don’t want to give Lonzo the best player in the world and don’t get no championship? Shoot.”
The Clippers defeated the Lakers 96-93. Ball scored five points on 2-for-15 shooting, dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Of course, James remains with the Cavaliers, but the superstar can opt out of his contract next summer. The Lakers have their eyes on next summer’s free agency.
LaVar Ball also made it clear that there is no beef between himself and James despite the fact that LeBron took exception to LaVar saying that his three sons are set up better for future success than James’ kids due to James being an all-time great player while appearing on a “In the Zone with Chris Broussard” podcast.
James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin in March that LaVar needed to “keep my kids’ name out of your mouth.”
“It was never nothing,” LaVar said on Friday night. “It’s the media who made it seem like I was talking about his son. It was nothing. And they take it to us battling against each other. But I ain’t talking about no one else’s kids.”
The Lonzo Ball era began with a bang as it took less than 30 seconds for the second overall pick to deliver a highlight play with his first assist coming on an alley-oop pass to Brandon Ingram.
Despite the fact that Lonzo struggled with his shot — going just 1-for-11 from 3-point range — LaVar said the Rookie of the Year contest won’t be much of a contest.
“Rookie of the Year man, sewn up,” LaVar said. “Why wouldn’t it be, man? He is going to turn the whole program around. He goes to the playoffs the first year, guess who gets Rookie of the Year. [The Lakers have] been out for four years. The proof is in the pudding.”
LaVar was a hit among fans here at Thomas & Mack Center, stopping to take selfies and acknowledging cheers from Lakers fans. He was decked out in Big Baller Brand clothes, including a shirt that sparkled. He says the brand has sold about “495” pairs so far.
Washington Mystics’ star and former WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne tweeted of Lonzo Ball wearing the new brand’s shoes:
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) July 8, 2017
“Let her go with Nike and see where she gets,” LaVar responded. “We will see her when time goes by.”
Later in the third quarter, Lonzo drilled his only 3-pointer and LaVar shouted his approval.
“Lonzo is iconic,” LaVar said of his son’s debut with an alley-oop. “He always does good. All we do is worry about the win. We don’t worry about no solo stuff.
“It’s easy,” LaVar added of his son’s first assist. “It’s always been like that. We play with his brothers, I tell him to hit a 3-pointer or slam-dunk the first play to get people out of their seats and let’s go! And he brought that to his first play, a lob.”
Even as Lonzo struggled with his shot, LaVar insisted his son wasn’t nervous in his debut.
“Nervous? No!” LaVar said. “He can go 0-for-30, who cares? As long as you go 1-for-1 for the game winner … 0-for-whatever doesn’t mean nothing.
“He is giving them a taste,” LaVar added of Lonzo’s passing. “But he is worried about winning. We don’t care about no taste or nothing. We are going to get that W. The more W’s we get, the more the fans come and watch the game. It is entertainment. You can’t be entertained by losing.”
Lonzo and the Lakers play again on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics in a highly anticipated showdown between Ball, the second overall pick in this year’s draft, and Boston’s Jayson Tatum, the third overall pick.
For the first time in the 14-year history that the NBA Summer League has been in Las Vegas, a day’s session sold out in advance, with Saturday’s tickets selling out by noon on Friday.
Thomas & Mack’s capacity will be at approximately 15,000 with Cox holding another 2,500, according to the NBA. The most expensive seat runs for $ 400 face value courtside. But the majority of the seats are not assigned and will be first come, first serve.
“Yes! I expect that,” LaVar said of the Las Vegas Summer League making history by selling out a day’s session in advance. “My boys have been selling out arenas ever since they have been playing, from high school arenas, to UCLA arena, to pro arenas.
“That ain’t going to change. The Ball era is here.”