WITH LeBron James watching from the sidelines, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball put on a show in breaking out with his best game so far in the NBA Summer League in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, 103-102, on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Ball exploded for 36 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks to effectively erase all doubts from his dismal summer league debut.
James, who watched the game but left with six minutes remaining, was impressed with what he saw from the Lakers prized rookie.
“He can really pass it,” James, who was in Las Vegas to work out and guide his young teammates in the summer league, told ESPN.
But after lauding Ball on the court, the four-time NBA MVP couldn’t help but jab at the Lakers newbie’s curious choice of shoes in his breakout game.
Ball, who has his own signature sneaker ZO2 under their family’s own Big Baller Brand, chose to wear Nike Kobe AD in the purple colorway. James immediately made a pitch online in his Instagram account.
“Just. Do. It,” he wrote on the caption.
A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Jul 12, 2017 at 9:44pm PDT
Ball, though, explained his decision to wear Nike, specifically the Kobe AD, in his third summer league game.
"You know, Mamba mentality. Thought I'd switch it up... it is good," he told ESPN.
"You can wear whatever you want when you play with Big Baller Brand and it is just nice to get out there and do that," Ball explained.
Ball did channel his inner Kobe Bryant with his scoring while wearing the Black Mamba’s shoes. But he also matched a feat last done by another Laker legend back in 1987 in the franchise’s current president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who was the last Lakers cager to notch 30 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals.
The Lakers rookie, though, played down his accomplishment in the summer league.
“It wasn’t about me. It was about the team,” said Ball, who nonetheless expressed displeasure over his errors.
“Too many turnovers. I’ve got to crack down at that. But I’m happy we won,” he added.