USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt discusses the biggest story lines to come out of the NBA draft, including Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and the Timberwolves’ big trade for Jimmy Butler.
USA TODAY Sports
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Magic Johnson pointed a long index finger at the wall of the Los Angeles Lakers’ training complex, where the 16-time NBA champions’ nine retired numbers hang over the practice court.
“I’m going to put a little pressure on you right now,” Johnson said to Lonzo Ball. “You look to your right, there’s some jerseys hanging on that wall. We expect a Ball jersey hanging up there one day, all right? Good.”
Somebody not wearing Big Baller Brand sneakers might be a bit intimidated by Johnson’s bold pronouncements. After all, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations immediately dubbed his 19-year-old point guard “the new face of the Lakers, the guy who I think will lead us back to where we want to get to.”
But after a short lifetime spent preparing for this moment, Ball already knows exactly what’s expected from a superstar on his favorite team.
“I’m happy to be home, and I’m ready to get to work,” Ball said as he formally joined the Lakers on Friday after getting chosen with the No. 2 overall pick.
Ball is facing sky-high expectations, but he’s also just one part of Johnson’s plan to transform the Lakers into a championship contender after the worst four-season stretch in franchise history.
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