The Lakers went to Cleveland last night for the first meeting of Lonzo Ball and LeBron James. And honestly, like a lot of things involving the Lakers this year, it was better and more exciting than expected. Sure, the Cavs won 121-112 and LeBron had a triple-double and Kevin Love had a double-double. And there are no moral victories, but there were some nice moments for the Lakers, like this smooth give and go from Brook Lopez to Brandon Ingram.
Or this absolute joke of an outlet pass from Lonzo Ball.
The thing is, that wasn’t an outlet pass. An outlet pass is what you do when you pull down a rebound and throw it to a guard, usually somewhere around the foul line extended. Ball threw that beyond the other free throw line and put it right where it needed to be. And it was practically a no-look pass. He’s barely down from getting the rebound and the ball is already out of his hands. Throw passes like that and you don’t have to shoot.
But the highlights weren’t all about the Lakers. There was also this hammer from LeBron.
But when it comes to last night, nobody wants to talk about the game. All anyone wants to talk about is what happened after the game and specifically what LeBron was saying to Lonzo when he went top secret with it by covering his mouth. And of course LeBron isn’t saying. He wasn’t saying in the immediate on-court interview after the game. And he wasn’t saying anything later, either, telling reporters it’s “none of y’all business.”
Okay, that’s a veteran move. Let’s try the rookie, what did he tell you, Lonzo? “He didn’t tell me anything.”
Exactly. I mean, I understand why the reporters have to ask and I understand why he’s giving that answer. What would be the point of covering his mouth and then telling everyone what he said moments later? That’s why you cover your mouth in the first place.
And I guarantee you whatever he was saying probably wasn’t nearly as interesting as you think it was. Or as twitter thinks it was. There’s no way that he was telling Lonzo that he’s coming to the Lakers. Or that his brothers are going to have a horrible time in Lithuania. Or asking if he can buy a pair of Lonzo’s shoes. Or asking for real estate advice in SoCal – he already has two houses here. Or seeing what Lonzo knows about LA’s ability to waive and stretch Luol Deng’s deal in order to free up cap space for a run at LeBron and Paul George. I’m guessing it was none of that, but either way, LeBron’s not saying.
“I don’t do it to get a reaction. I do it because he’s said over and over since he was growing up who he modeled his game after, who was his favorite player. It was me. I was humbled by that. Me wishing him happy birthday [on Twitter] was kind of the salute back to him. I see all the stupid noise that happens. I can’t buy a place in L.A. I can’t live in L.A. It’s funny noise. But I don’t get involved in it. When I post things, I don’t look at comments. I’m so far removed from the white noise, and the noise, it doesn’t matter.”
Yes and no. He’s not talking to Lonzo to get a reaction, but he knows that talking to Lonzo will get a reaction. He’s smart like that. And I dig it. He’s in the entertainment business and he knows that will get people buzzing and talking for weeks about what it means for his relationship with Lonzo and a future decision about the Lakers.
But for all that talk about LeBron going to the Lakers, I’m not sure that last night really will have much impact in the grand scheme of things. Sure, he got the chance to see Lonzo, Ingram, and the rest of the crew in action on the floor, but does anyone really think that a major decision will come down to one mid-week game in December? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not.
The good thing for Laker fans is that the Baby Lakers didn’t show up in Cleveland and throw up all over themselves. I’m not saying that you can win over LeBron in mid-December, but you could definitely scare him off. Lose by 30, and be an absolute mess at both ends and it’s hard to imagine that leaves a good impression.
Instead, they held their own. Ball had flashes. Ingram had flashes. Kyle Kuzma had flashes. That’s all good. But the bad thing is, they aren’t superstars yet. There’s potential, but you’d be asking LeBron to bet on that potential becoming reality in a hurry because he wants to win and wants to win now. But all of this speculation is just that – speculation. And if you know anything from how he’s handled these situations in the past, you won’t know the result until you know the result. Going to Miami shocked the world. Going back to Cleveland shocked the world. And there’s a good chance that what he does next will, too.