Lonzo Ball has been a hot topic since he and his brothers were running wild on the same high school basketball team. His younger brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, set records at Chino Hills while becoming memes for hitting halfcourt shots on the regular. Lonzo moved onto UCLA, but in a disappointing 2017 NCAA Tournament run the Bruins flamed out in a stacked bracket during the Sweet 16. Since then, the boys' father, LaVar, has been on a media run unlike we've ever seen from a young athlete's dad since maybe Todd Marinovich's father Marv back in the late '80s.
Now, LaVar isn't as extreme as Marv was, but he has mentioned that he planned for his kids to all play in the NBA since their inception, even going so far as to tell his wife when they first met, "We're going to get married and make boys." He bred his kids for basketball glory and it seems to be paying off. LaMelo is entering his junior year at Chino Hills, LiAngelo is headed to UCLA, and Lonzo is set to be a top three pick in this upcoming draft.
With Father's Day coming up, Footlocker brilliantly got Lonzo to open up about his father in their latest commercial. While other top prospects De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum and Jonathan Isaac talked about playing hoops with their fathers in driveway, Lonzo touched on all the things LaVar has been in the news for this last year or so. We kicked it with 'Zo about making light of a media-hyped situation, how he handles his father's outlandish statements and why he hasn't been seen wearing his signature $495 ZO2 sneakers yet.
The media makes a big deal about your father's alleged influence on you and your brother's lives. Are you guys laughing about it behind the scenes?
I feel like that's a fair assessment. My father and I are close, we stick together through everything. We don't let the media pull us apart.
Was the Laker pre-draft workout everything you expected?
Yeah, it was a good workout. There was a lot of shooting drills and I'm just glad I got a chance to go in there.
Lamar Odom was at the workout. Did you get a chance to talk to any other former Lakers, and what advice did they give you?
No, I just talked to the coaching staff. I got to talk to Lamar. I met him during the tournament, so it was nice seeing him again. He just told me to stay focused and to keep grinding.
Over the course of your high school and college career, people have compared you to guys like Penny, Magic, and Jason Kidd. Which past or current player should you be compared to?
I try to be just my own player, so I really don't compare myself to nobody. The crowd that I'm compared to is pretty good, so I'm happy about that. My favorite player growing up was LeBron, so I take the most from his game.
Everyone made a big deal about you wearing the Harden Adidas during your Laker workout. Why didn't you bring out the Triple Bs?
I'm just showing how I'm so independent, I can wear whatever I want. Maybe I'll pull out the Triple Bs next time, it just depends on what I wanna do. There's a lot of freedom.
Yeah, because people also made a big fuss about your appearance on the Sneaker Shopping episode you recently did with us.
Everybody has an opinion. We're showing people that we can do whatever pretty much we wanna do and you can't do nothing about it. We're independent.
In the commercial other guys are talking about fishing and playing their dads one-on-one in the driveway. Has your dad ever let you beat him in a game of one-on-one?
No, we never really finished a game of one-of-one because it just ends. We haven't played in a while. If we played now, I think I would win in a blowout. All he does is hack.
How do you deal with the way your father handles the media—the Ball Family PR machine, if you will. Do you ever try to get him to stop making it hot for you?
No, he's been like that my whole life. I tell people that all the time, plus in my family we don't talk back. So, I let him do whatever he's going to do, and I just do whatever I got to do.
But what about the wild statements, like when he said you're better than Steph Curry?
My dad has always been very positive and he always sets the bar high for me to go chase it. Like I said, I'm used to that. I heard that plenty of times, it's just that when he finally said it to the media everyone went crazy.
Do you think he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one?
[Laughs.] Personally, I don't think so, but you didn't hear that from me.
Do you think the way he handles your career is going to change once you get into the league?
He's always going to be my dad, so he's always going to be there. But I wouldn't say he handles my career. I'm my own player, I'm my own person; it's that he's there and he's a great support system.
How much is your father a distraction to you, really?
I don't think he's a distraction at all just because he's been the same my whole life.
Would you consider pursuing a career in rap like A.I. and Shaq?
If the opportunity presented itself and I had time, it would be a lot of fun.