Despite the fact that former Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball and current Lakers forward LeBron James spent only one season together, they were able to establish something of a bond.
In a new interview, Ball indicates that James was his biggest mentor during their time as teammates.
Ball appeared on a podcast hosted by California Baptist University men’s basketball head coach Rick Croy. The new member of the New Orleans Pelicans stated that being in close proximity to each other was one factor in making that connection.
“The person who’s mentored me the most in the last year is probably LeBron,” Ball said. “Just being with him pretty much the whole year: same team, same bus, same hotel. I was just always with him and just picking up what I can from the greatest to ever play.”
Both players struggled with injuries during the 2018-19 campaign, with James limited to just 55 games and Ball playing in just 47 contests.
One of the reasons that James could understand what Ball was going through was because of their shared circumstances. Both were highly touted high school players whose games garnered national recognition. In addition, James was selected first overall in the 2003 draft, while Ball was the second overall selection in 2017.
James wasn’t always so inclined to help members of the Ball family, largely due to a 2017 controversy involving Ball’s bombastic father LaVar. In that instance, the elder Ball compared the pressures faced by his sons to that of James’ highly touted son, LeBron James, Jr., which irritated James.
“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth, keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now,” James angrily responded at the time.
While James is set to begin his second season with the Lakers, Ball will be in a new situation with the Pelicans. He was dealt there in June as part of the huge trade package needed for the Lakers to acquire superstar Anthony Davis.
It’s possible that Ball could find the roles reversed this year by serving as a mentor for this year’s top draft pick, Zion Williamson. A great deal of anticipation has been building to see how Williamson performs in the NBA, with Ball being in the perfect position for a close look in order to offer advice.