Lonzo Ball and the Lakers looking to recreate Showtime – ESPN

 In Sports

Of course, Thomas is quite familiar with the man who just picked Ball. The Isiah-Magic rivalry was only two degrees cooler than the smoldering Bird-Magic rivalry, so it was fitting to ask Thomas if Ball could end up being a poor man’s version of Johnson. Or perhaps something even better.

“I will say Lonzo has Magic’s brain,” Thomas said. “As a student of the game, and knowing how to get his teammates involved, and understanding how to motivate his teammates to get the best out of them, Lonzo did that in high school and college, and I don’t see that changing now. When you get people who are willing to help you look better and want the best for you and not necessarily what’s best for themselves, that’s what building a team is all about. And I’ve never heard selfishness mentioned in the same sentence with Lonzo Ball.

“He’ll be a superstar, but with him the criteria for superstar — that box will have to be altered a bit. If your criteria for a superstar is you’ve got to score 30 and be Kevin Durant or LeBron James, those are rare people we won’t see for another 30 years in our league. But I believe Ball will be a superstar in his own way.”

The selfless way. The only way to turn basketball into ballet.

Bob Cousy, six-time NBA champ with the Boston Celtics, was the first marquee player to embrace this concept. Cousy was the founding father of the no-look pass, and whenever he got carried away and threw one into the stands, old-school reporters would go running to his curmudgeon of a coach, Red Auerbach. They would ask Auerbach if he would start forcing Cousy to throw conventional chest passes, preferably with two hands and a bounce.

“I don’t give a s— how he does it,” Auerbach would tell them, “as long as it gets to the target.”

Cousy loved that answer. “It was Red’s way of saying, ‘Keep doing it, the fans love it,'” he said.

At 88, Cousy has seen the game evolve a dozen times over, and frankly, he’s sick and tired of watching teams run the high pick-and-roll with shooters stationed in the corner. But one central truth about the sport has remain untouched: A great passer takes the sport places no other player can.

1 Related

“If basketball is an art form,” he said, “it resides in the passing game. I’m biased, but you’ve got to have someone running the show. Playing without a true point guard is like sending a football team out there without a quarterback. And I think you need a point guard who comes over half court thinking, ‘I have to do something wonderful for the other four guys,’ and not, ‘I have to do something wonderful for myself.’

“Not may people have exceptional passing skills, but when you have that, you can do a lot of damage to the defense. You can talk about the 3-pointer and the slam dunk, but that wears off. Creative passing never does.”

Lonzo is the ultimate creator of this draft, not to mention a prospect who already carries himself like a pro. Thursday night, after Lonzo made his way onto the draft stage (alone) wearing a purple Lakers cap and a black Big Baller Brand bow tie, the kid showed he’s more composed than many older figures around him. On his winding walk from the arena floor to a post-selection interview room, Lonzo was led by an amateur-hour official who was inappropriately screaming at credentialed people to clear the hallway. Lonzo never lost his cool, his patience or his stride.

If nothing else, LaVar seems to have raised a fine, levelheaded young man. The NBA instantly became a better, more entertaining place when Lonzo was drafted. The kid is an artist, and let’s face it: Most basketball fans would rather watch players paint than players in the paint.

So at 7:47 p.m. ET Thursday, it was time to change the playbook. Time to stop hating Lonzo’s dad, and time to start loving Lonzo’s game.

Recent Posts
Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox
Join over 2.3 million subscribers. Get daily breaking news directly to your inbox as they happen.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Get Latest News in Facebook
Never miss another breaking news. Click on the "LIKE" button below now!