Lonzo Ball will go up against his idol LeBron James for the first time ever Thursday night when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the Lakers' rookie point guard has already managed to impress King James from afar.
"The kid hasn't said anything. It's been everybody else. So, I love his humility," James told ESPN about the 20-year-old Ball on Tuesday night. "He goes out, every time someone asks him a question, he says, 'This is not about me, man. I just want to win. I don't care about what I did.' I seen he had a triple-double one game and they lost. He was like, 'I don't care. We lost.'
And that's part of the reason why Lonzo reminds the three-time NBA champion of his rookie self.
"So, can I draw any parallel to my experience? I mean, of course," James continued telling ESPN. "I guess when you're drafted to a franchise, they want you to kind of be the savior. And it takes a while. I mean, listen, man, this guy is 20-something games into his pro career. S**t doesn't happen [that fast]. Here it goes again, it goes back to my instant oatmeal [quote]: Everybody wants it right away."
James added: "Can he play ball? Absolutely. The kid can play ball. Do guys want to play with him? Absolutely, because it's a guy who is not about him. It's about the success of the team. And he gives the ball up, and he passes the ball, and there's energy behind the ball."
That's high praise from LeBron to Ball, who is averaging 8.9 points per game on just 32.7 percent shooting from the field and 25.8 percent from beyond the arc, in addition to seven assists and nearly seven rebounds per contest.
Ball and the Lakers will be hard-pressed to upset James' Cavs tomorrow night, though, considering Cleveland overcame early-season struggles, having won 15 of its past 16 games. If anything, it will be an incredible learning experience for young Lonzo.
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