EL SEGUNDO – Before the Lakers fulfilled the Prophecy of LaVar, drafted a hometown hero and hit reset on a rebuilding effort that has come in fits and starts, Luke Walton understood what fans believed would reclaim the city’s hardwood heritage.
Lonzo Ball. Whenever Walton stepped outside his Manhattan Beach home, fans told him who the Lakers needed. Lonzo Ball.
“They were going nuts for him before the draft happened,” Walton said Thursday night.
With a cross-country phone call originating from the Lakers’ headquarters in El Segundo shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Lakers reshaped this city’s struggling franchise, drafting Ball, a sweet-passing point guard from UCLA and Chino Hills.
If not for a father who speaks in guarantees and breathes only fire, Ball might be most often described as mild-mannered, soft-spoken and humble instead of as LaVar Ball’s son.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think I really say anything too crazy,” Lonzo Ball said in a conference call with L.A. media.
After the Lakers drafted Ball, the next piece of the Lakers’ evolving puzzle did a quick handshake with his younger brother.
While Magic Johnson’s first draft choice began hours-long media obligations, ESPN’s cameras and reporter sped to LaVar in the audience. When Lonzo grabbed a Lakers hat off a stand, his dad pulled out headwear of his own: a purple and gold cap emblazoned with “BBB” the initial’s of LaVar’s entrepreneurial vehicle, “Big Baller Brand.”
When did he have that made?
“When he was a baby,” LaVar bellowed, before going on to say that his other two sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo would follow suit: star at UCLA and get drafted by the Lakers.
How would he make that happen?
Hollywood now has, at least, another showman. Fans will like LaVar, he speaks their language. He guaranteed the Lakers would reach the playoffs next season with Lonzo playing point guard.
Walton heard the voices of those fans he said he…