Ball learned of the stroke during a UCLA practice when he received a text message from a relative. His father, LaVar Ball, was upset with the relative because he was waiting to tell Lonzo about his mother’s condition in person that evening at his brothers’ basketball game.
Lonzo said he sees his mother four or five times a week and her condition is improving.
“She can’t really talk right now, but I mean, she definitely, she knows what we’re saying,” Lonzo said. “She smiles all the time, so that’s a good thing.”
LaVar Ball, 49, was attending to his wife at home and didn’t make the trip to Memphis, Tenn., for UCLA’s loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinal, Lonzo’s last collegiate game before declaring for the NBA draft.
LaVar Ball is yet to offer details about why Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe carries an unprecedented $495 price tag, but he fielded questions about it on Tuesday. The father of the former UCLA star said on Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed that Michael Jordan couldn’t price his shoes that high “because he ain’t Lonzo Ball, that’s why.”
Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe, produced by his family company Big Baller Brand, was revealed on Thursday. The price of the ZO2 Prime has dominated the discussion since. LaVar Ball said he and Lonzo independently decided on the $495 price, but was tight-lipped about the discussion that led to a significantly higher number than the most expensive Jordan Brand shoes.
Lonzo Ball may prove himself to be a once-in-a-generation player. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Strengths: Lonzo Ball should be flattered by the Jason Kidd comparisons, but UCLA’s point guard more than justified them by leading the NCAA in assists and surpassing Kidd’s best single-season total at Cal. Passing ability is where comparisons between the two end. Ball doesn’t just have otherworldly vision, he shoots a high percentage, stands two inches taller than Kidd and possesses the athleticism to play above the rim. Even as dynamic as Ball proved himself to be, his passing ability was clearly his best attribute. It was so exceptional, coupled with his unselfish attitude, Ball infected the rest of UCLA’s roster with a team-first approach not often found at any level of basketball in this era.
Weaknesses: Deep into the season after Ball had been thoroughly scouted, he mounted what looked like a concerted effort to dispatch the notion he didn’t have a mid-range game. But even by season’s end, only 7.6 percent of his shot attempts weren’t at the rim or beyond the 3-point line, according to hoop-math.com. Ball shot just 26 jumpers inside the arc and made 12 of them – in 36 games. Pretty alarming numbers on the surface for a player with unconventional shooting form that doesn’t particularly lend itself to a pull-up jumper. Ball filled a stat sheet like nobody else in college basketball, but mid-range shooting is a hole in an otherwise comprehensive resume.
“I have a lot of respect for him, and he’s supposed to say that. Anyone that’s your competitor is going to think that they’re better,” Fultz told SI Now. “To me, it was just funny. He just motivated me to work harder and be sure I put myself further in front.”
Fultz, who played his freshman season at Washington before declaring for the NBA draft in March, is widely projected to be the No. 1 pick on June 22. Ball, who declared for the draft after his freshman year at UCLA, is often referenced as second-best prospect in the draft.
On March 28, Ball was asked who the better player is. “Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” Ball told ESPN 710-AM. “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”
Fultz acknowledged his budding rivalry with Ball in the interview with Sports Illustrated and addressed to the chances we’ll see him wearing Big Baller Brand apparel next year – “Over my dead body,” his mother, Ebony Fultz, said. Fultz doesn’t just want to be the No. 1 pick, he wants to win the NBA MVP next season.
Lonzo Ball added one of the largest feathers in his cap on Monday, when he was named an Associated Press first team All-America. UCLA’s point guard is the only freshman on the team.
Kansas’ Frank Mason III won AP Player of the Year, an indication that the Jayhawks point guard may be Ball’s chief competition for the Wooden and Naismith Awards given to college basketball’s top player. Ball and Mason learned on Monday that they’re two of the five finalists for the Wooden Award with AP All-America first-teamers Josh Hart and Caleb Swanigan and second-teamer Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss. Ball and Mason are two of four finalists for the Naismith Award with Hart and Swanigan.