After months of making headlines for doing everything other than playing basketball, Lonzo Ball finally took part in his first official NBA game on Thursday night—and it didn’t go all that well for him. The Lakers lost to the Clippers 108-92 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Ball struggled to find any sort of rhythm on the court. He finished with just 3 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists and shot just 1-for-6 from the field. And he also endured a series of "Welcome to the NBA" moments courtesy of Clippers veteran Patrick Beverley.
Beverley, who obviously heard all of the hype surrounding Ball heading into his first game, tested the Lakers rookie every chance he got. He picked him up on defense beyond the half-court line. He talked trash to Ball throughout the course of the game and tried to get a reaction out of him. And when it was all over, he seemed to go on an expletive-filled tirade directed at Ball outside of the Clippers’ locker room following the game.
"Fucking win," Beverley yelled, according to ESPN reporter Arash Markazi. "Weak ass motherfuckers. Don’t put that motherfucker on me."
While speaking with reporters a short time later, he added: "I just had to set the tone, man. I told [Lonzo] after the game, man, [that] due to all the riffraff his dad brings, he’s 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. What a better way to start off, just 94 feet guarding him tonight…Welcome his little, young ass to the NBA."
Beverley basically brought this tweet from back in September to life.
Ball seemed to take the L in stride. He credited Beverley with playing great defense on him and said that he "knows his job, and he does it very well." He also talked about how he realizes that the expectations surrounding him are high and pointed out that he was just as disappointed with the outcome of his first NBA game as everyone else.
"That’s what happens when you play in L.A.," he said. "Everybody expects you to do well, and if you don’t, they get somebody to do it. So obviously tonight wasn’t the way we wanted to come out, wasn’t the way we wanted to finish. But the good thing about the NBA is we’ve got 81 more."
He also got wind of what Beverley said about his son after the game, and he went off on him while speaking with ESPN. Rather than simply accepting the loss for what it was and giving Beverley props for playing well like Lonzo did, LaVar lobbed a series of shots in Beverley’s direction.
"Yeah, you shut the motherfucker down," LaVar said. "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]. Let’s see what you do the next five games, if you are going to be pumped up towards 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."
LaVar also accused Beverley of trying to get his attention during the game.
"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. 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."
It is important to remember here that, as LaVar just said, this was only one game. Lonzo will get plenty of chances to bounce back this season. But if Thursday night was any indication, every point guard in the league is going to have a little bit of extra motivation to play hard against Lonzo this year, because of the target he has on his back due to his dad. And the comments LaVar made after his first game are probably only going to make things worse for him.
Lonzo and the Lakers will return to the court on Friday night with a road game against the Suns.