We all have that boisterous relative. You avoid them at family functions. Every Facebook post pushes you closer and closer towards that unfollow button. Introducing them to a new friend, or god forbid a significant other, requires a lengthy explanation and numerous apologies. Now take the case of Lonzo Ball. He’s a blue chip prospect growing up in the social media age. His brothers can’t get out of their own way and his dad is LAVAR F’N BALL. The kid never stood a chance in the eyes of sports media. There isn’t a mainstream outlet that doesn’t have at least three Ball Family pieces in the can. It’s just due diligence. But if you focus just on basketball, Lonzo Ball may just be the seed that starts the regrowth of Showtime Forest. You will just have to ignore the noise around him to realize it.
Lonzo Ball is in a great situation. He’ll be playing home games this year for all intents and purposes at home. An LA kid featuring for the heralded Lakers should be the headline. A player with vision beyond his years trying to revive a franchise left behind by the new NBA. Instead, we have Monday Night Raw highlights and debates with Stephen A. Smith that make the common sports fan want to throw a brick through their television.
My public speaking in teacher in college taught me of a concept of noise in the channel. Every “um” or “you know” that surrounds your message makes your message harder to understand. His family is Lonzo’s noise in the channel. I am hoping that the Las Vegas Summer League begins the quieting process.
People want to discount the Summer League. There can’t be a double standard with it though. If it doesn’t matter, then why did the internet collapse on Lonzo Ball after his dreadful opener. Ball’s Lakers dropped the first “game” of their new era to their Staples Center roommates 96-93. Lonzo went 2-for-15 with just 5 points and 5 assists. He had to answer for his performance as if it was Game 7 of the goddamn NBA Finals. He took the cliched route of “I have nowhere to go but up.” But little did we know how far up that was.
He’s followed up his debut dud with two triple doubles and a Summer League-high 36 point outburst. He’s gone from a boisterous bum to the next Russell Westbrook in the span of a week. But that is what the noise has done to him. There is no room for middle ground with Lonzo Ball anymore. The thing is I don’t think he wants to be a player in that middle ground. He aspires to be great. He’d rather just show you than tell you.
Lonzo Ball would rather you focus on that superb box out followed by an outlet pass that would make Kevin McHale shed a tear. The noise wants you to look at his shoes. Ball would rather you pay attention to the way he seemingly rewards every cut with a pinpoint pass and a great chance to score. The noise is more concerned with your knowledge that his brother once shot the ball from half court in a high school game. Lonzo’s tinkering of his hideous shot in hopes of further improving his game is a sign that he wants to be a great player. But “Did you see First Take this morning?!?!” replies the noise.
Nevertheless, this will most likely remain the status quo with Lonzo Ball. The only thing we as sports fans can do is ignore the noise. It will be difficult, but not impossible. However, if we don’t at least try, the noise will drown out a player that doesn’t come along that often.