Lonzo Ball Knew He Was Going To Be a Laker and (Maybe) Made NBA Draft History

If he was tipped off, he didn’t say. But if Lonzo Ball truly didn’t have assurance from the Lakers that he was going to be the second pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, he felt it in his bones. Or more accurately his feet.

Because sitting in the green room, off to the right of the podium where commissioner Adam Silver announced all 30 first round selections, Ball decided to switch shoes once the Lakers were on the clock.  

Gone where the black hard bottoms he was sporting earlier. Out came a pair of the infamous Big Baller Brand ZO2s that retail for $495. Only these weren’t all black, like the ones that infamously debuted back in May. This pair was gold and purple—Lakers colors. And before Silver could say Ball’s name, he casually slipped on the sneakers because he just knew suiting up for his hometown team was his destiny.

“Just had a good feeling, and changed them five minutes before when they was on the clock, and I'm glad they called my name,” said Ball, in typically understated fashion.

The NBA’s signature fashion event, where 19-and-20-year-old kids get decked out in suits that would put every prom outside of Beverly Hills to shame, usually does not feature any wardrobe changes, other than the addition of a team hat once Silver calls your name. But Ball just might have authored an NBA first when he switched shoes in the middle of the draft.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers got their point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.”

Ball told Complex he changed “when [the Lakers] had the pick, right after Markelle” Fultz was chosen first by the Sixers. The Ball family had them hidden “right under the table” and Lonzo “had a feeling” he was about to be next selection. And that’s when he slipped into something way more comfortable and way more marketable than a pair of black dress shoes.

And really, Lonzo rocking a brand new colorway of the ZO2s was arguably one of the more interesting subplots to come out of the NBA Draft that didn't revolve around the Jimmy Butler trade to the Timberwolves or the prospect of Phil Jackson asininely shipping Kristaps Porzingis somewhere. Because the top part of the draft didn’t veer far from most projections. It was short on suspense and very predictable. 

Fultz went to the Sixers. Lonzo to the Lakers. Jayson Tatum to the Celtics at No. 3. Josh Jackson to the Suns at No. 4 and De’Aaron Fox, the guy who was rumored to be ahead of Ball on the Lakers’ draft board about a month ago, went to the Kings at No. 5.

In the end, LaVar Ball, with his swagger on a hundred, thousand, trillion at Barclays Center, could do his damn thing, talk his talk, and most especially walk his signature walk. His son was drafted to the only team he ever wanted him to play for, the team he predicted months ago would wind up with his son. LaVar proved to be a prophet.

Lonzo Ball LaVar Ball Green Room NBA Draft 2017
Image via USA Today Sports/Brad Penner

The man behind Big Baller Brand was surprisingly absent as Lonzo made his way through the arena's bowels, talking to reporters, taking part in NBA sanctioned obligations, and getting hounded by little kids for autographs. Usually, new draftees are paraded all over the arena with their handlers and based on how hands-on LaVar has been, it wasn’t out of the question to expect him to tail his son. But maybe it was by design that he didn’t, or maybe it was just happenstance that papa Ball had to stick around with the rest of his brood and babysit the younger LiAngelo and LaMelo while Lonzo basked in his crowning achievement of his 19 years of existence.

We didn’t really get to witness the bragging and boasting of LaVar afterward, which would have been gold. But he got what he wanted, what he predicted. And we, as NBA fans, got what was basically expected from the darft.

With the rest of the top 10 relatively bereft of drama, Lonzo winding up with the Lakers was arguably the biggest draft-specific story of the night. Lakers exec Magic Johnson got his point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.” Predictably, Lonzo was about as emotive as a robot, barely smiling or acting like a giddy teenager you’d expect most kids in his position to be.

But at least he was rocking the freshest kicks in the house, the ones nobody else was wearing or could get their hands at the time, the ones that he can most definitely afford now that's he's a Laker. 

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De’Aaron Fox’s Father Aaron Takes Shot at LaVar and Lonzo Ball

In his final game as a member of the UCLA Bruins, Lonzo Ball gave NBA teams a lot to think about, and it had nothing to do with his lackluster stat line of 10 points, eight assists, and three rebounds on 4-for-10 shooting. It had more to do with the player across the court from Lonzo: Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox. Fox was instrumental in helping propel the Wildcats past the Bruins in the Sweet 16 of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, scoring 39 points, dishing out four dimes, and grabbing three boards while going 13-for-20 from the field. 

Following the game, Lonzo's father LaVar dismissed Fox's performance. “They came up short, but one game doesn't define his season,” he said, per ESPN. “No one is going to take De'Aaron Fox over him because of one game. It's about your body of work, and people know what he can do.” While Fox admits that his 39-point performance was meant to “shut LaVar Ball up,” the Wildcats point guard's father Aaron has remained relatively quiet. That is, until he sat down with Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report

When LaVar and his son Lonzo were brought up in their conversation, Aaron took a clear dig at the Ball family, claiming De'Aaron “already ate his ass up twice” during their match-ups last season.

“My son already ate his ass up twice,” he said. “[LaVar] can say what he wants to say. I just tell him to go back and watch the film. That’s it. All that yap, yap, yapping, I don’t even got to respond to that. We played them twice. Twice his son got outplayed. I always tell [De’Aaron], let your game speak for it. You ain’t got to talk. You ain’t got to fuss.”

With De'Aaron and Lonzo's entire NBA career ahead of them, this probably isn't the last time we have heard of Aaron or LaVar throwing shade at one another. 

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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LeBron James Subtweets Dan Gilbert After Cavaliers Part Ways With General Manager David Griffin

The Cavaliers made a really surprising move on Monday night, and unfortunately for Cleveland fans, it didn’t have anything to do with the Jimmy Butler trade rumors that were swirling around earlier in the day.

Just hours after those Butler rumors started gaining some traction online, the Cavaliers and their general manager David Griffin announced that they had decided to part ways. Griffin—who had been with the team for three years and helped put together the roster that won a title just one year ago—had been seeking a contract extension from the Cavaliers for the last few months. But according to an ESPN.com report, Griffin and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension in recent weeks. And with Griffin’s current contract set to expire at the end of June, the two sides broke off negotiations recently and decided it would be best to go their separate ways rather than continue to work together moving forward.

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Shortly after reports about the split started to circulate, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin released a statement that Griffin put out about the situation. In it, Griffin thanked the Cavaliers organization and briefly touched on why he and Gilbert weren’t able to agree on a new contract:

“I am extremely excited for my next challenge in the NBA,” Griffin said, “however Dan and I know now that [the Cavaliers] are a team built largely on the concept of fit and are now at the point where the fit is not right for us to continue with one another.”

Gilbert also released a statement and thanked Griffin for everything he did during his time in Cleveland:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA Championship,” Gilbert said.

In his statement, Gilbert added that there would be “no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group.” But ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is reporting that the Cavaliers might be interested in hiring former NBA star Chauncey Billups to play an important role in their front office. They are reportedly going to meet with him on Tuesday:

Billups is very close with Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, so he could end up being a great addition to the team. But it sounds like there are some people within the Cavaliers organization who were not happy with the way the team handled Griffin’s departure.

LeBron James in particular seemed like he was displeased with the idea of the Cavaliers cutting ties with Griffin. Back in April, he told ESPN that he wanted to see Cleveland give Griffin a new deal, and shortly after the Cavaliers announced that he wouldn’t be back on Monday night, LeBron appeared to subtweet Gilbert in a thank-you tweet he sent out to Griffin:

Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck also reported that LeBron was “disappointed” and “concerned” over the situation. Beck pointed out that LeBron and Griffin had a great working relationship over the course of the last three years:

LeBron wasn’t the only “concerned” one in Cleveland, either. There were a lot of NBA fans who enjoyed seeing LeBron subtweet Gilbert:

But Cavaliers fans are worried about what it could mean for LeBron’s future with the team. There are already rumors out there about how he could leave the team next year to play for one of the two teams located in Los Angeles. And after he sent out his subtweet, there were even more fans speculating about how Griffin leaving could impact LeBron’s decision to stay in Cleveland next summer:

And just a reminder: All of this comes less than two weeks after LeBron addressed the infamous Comic Sans letter Gilbert wrote after he left Cleveland back in 2010. More than a few people have alluded to that letter over the last 12 hours:

Could this really be the beginning of the end for LeBron’s second tenure in Cleveland? That remains to be see. But this summer just got a lot more interesting for the Cavaliers and their fans.

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De’Aaron Fox Admits He Wanted to ‘Shut LaVar Ball Up’ During Game Against Lonzo Ball

There are some NBA fans who believe that the Lakers should consider drafting De’Aaron Fox instead of Lonzo Ball at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft next week. And they think that for a very simple reason. Fox dropped 39 points during Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament game against Ball’s UCLA team back in March, and they think it’s evidence that Fox, not Ball, should be the player the Lakers target in the draft.

There’s still a lot of debate over whether or not that would be the best move for the Lakers—for the record, Fox is on board with that line of thinking and thinks he should be drafted ahead of Ball—but regardless of where Ball and Fox ultimately land in the draft, the media seems to be manufacturing a rivalry between the two players before they're even drafted. And Fox himself seemed to get in on the action during a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.

Fox was asked about his relationship with Lonzo, and he said that he’s known him since they were both high school players. He also pointed out there, before they went to college, he had never heard a peep from Lonzo’s dad LaVar. Fox spoke about why he thinks LaVar suddenly came out of his shell over the course of the last six months, which seems like a strange concept to even consider when you think about just how over-the-top LaVar has been at times.

“In the last year, he became relevant for some reason,” Fox said. “When I knew Lonzo in high school, I’d never seen his dad before. He went crazy this year. I guess when your son a lottery pick, that gives you a lot of confidence.”

Fox also talked about his 39-point performance against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and said that LaVar served as his motivation heading into the game. Fox—who averaged 16.7 points and an SEC-leading 4.6 assists per game for Kentucky last season—heard everything LaVar was saying at the time. And he admitted that he wanted to show out against Lonzo and UCLA to “shut LaVar Ball up.” If you remember, that’s exactly what he did, though it didn’t last long as LaVar was right back on ESPN a couple days later talking again.

Elsewhere in the interview, Fox discussed what he thinks will happen once Lonzo gets into the NBA. Unfortunately, he thinks Lonzo’s NBA opponents are going to be gunning for him from the jump.

“He put a target on his neck,” Fox said.

You can check out SI’s story on Fox here. You can also check out the interview that we did with Fox here.

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Ryan Lochte Says He Considered Suicide Following Rio Olympics Scandal

After making up a wild, fake robbery story at the Rio Olympics, Ryan Lochte became one of the most loathed athletes on Earth. And who could blame the public for hating his guts? He fabricated a story about his time in another country, making Americans, his temporary hosts in Brazil, and a laundry list of other people look bad in the process.

If you let Lochte tell the story of what has happened since, the public backlash to his made-up tale was enough to push him to the brink. In an interview with ESPN's Allison Glock, Lochte confided that he considered suicide in the time following the 2016 Olympics.

When Lochte arrived home in Charlotte (on what he says was a prescheduled flight), there were a dozen media vans outside his house. He watched the news, read the online comments, the searing articles outlining how “Ryan Lochte Is the Worst!” In days, he lost every sponsor. He also received death threats. At a public appearance, Reid had a glass thrown at her head.

“After Rio, I was probably the most hated person in the world,” Lochte mumbles. “There were a couple of points where I was crying, thinking, 'If I go to bed and never wake up, fine.'” Asked if that means he considered suicide, Lochte nods slowly. “I was about to hang up my entire life.”

It sounds like the swimmer was in a dark place after the controversy in Rio, and you would never wish for someone to feel like their only answer in life is to end everything. Almost everyone deserves a second chance to make good after indiscretions, and we've seen people in the sports world emerge from dark moments to inject some good into the world. Michael Vick and his post-prison activism for animal rights is a perfect example of how to take another chance a run with it.

That said, it feels a little off to be talking about Lochte as some sort of redemption story. Prior to admitting he had suicidal thoughts, he seemed to convey a lack of contrition for his actions. “People wanted a reason to hate me,” he said. A more accurate version of events would be to say people expected a 32-year-old man to know better than to completely fabricate stories, or at least to show some remorse after he was caught doing so.

If Lochte wants to win back public favor, sharing his inner turmoil with everyone is definitely the way to go. People are happy to listen when you open up and express the troubles in life you've experienced, but that has to come attached to acknowledging his own fault in the Rio debacle. 

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LaVar Ball May Have Cost Lonzo a $20 Million Sneaker Deal

By now, you’ve probably heard that LaVar Ball cost his son Lonzo a sneaker deal after meeting with several large shoe companies like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour in April. He got roasted—and we do mean roasted—on social media for doing it. But do you know just how much LaVar cost Lonzo?

It’s hard to put an exact dollar amount on it, since its all speculation at this point. But on Tuesday, ESPN reporter Darren Rovell appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and revealed that he heard LaVar and Lonzo walked away from a sneaker deal worth at least $10 million over five years from one of the big sneaker companies. And now that it sounds like Lonzo will probably end up being drafted by the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, there’s a chance that deal could have ended up being worth twice as much as that. So in essence, LaVar may have cost Lonzo $20 million by botching the negotiations with Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour by insisting that one of the companies license the Ball family’s Big Baller Brand.

If we know LaVar—and at this point, doesn’t it feel like we all know LaVar?—he’s not going to be all that broken up by this report. He was looking for a billion-dollar deal, not a million-dollar deal, when he first started talking with the sneaker companies, so $10 million is basically, like, $10 to him. But Rovell also reported that the Balls are only going to end up making about $200 on every pair of $495 Big Baller Brand sneakers that they sell, which means they’re going to have to sell a lot of pairs if they want to make up the $10 to $20 million they’ve lost.

In other LaVar news, he’s also currently trying to score some free BBB sneakers for his AAU team—the AAU team that got destroyed by more than 50 points the other day—by making a bet with Ice Cube. Cube recently challenged LaVar to try and hit one of the 4-point shots that will be allowed in the new Big 3 league Cube has started. And LaVar responded by challenging him right back and saying that he’ll take part in a shootout with Cube if Cube agrees to buy his whole AAU team BBB sneakers if he loses to LaVar:

Cube doesn’t look like he has too much to worry about.

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Paul Pierce Compares Kevin Durant Teaming With Warriors to Kid Teaming With Bullies Who Beat Him Up

Paul Pierce wasn’t a big fan of Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors last summer. He sent out this tweet a short time after KD announced his decision:

He also did an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio a few months later and expressed his displeasure with KD taking his talents to Oakland. “I’m an old school guy,” Pierce said at the time. “I’m a competitor…When you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. That’s always been something that’s driven me. Today’s day and age, a lot of these guys are friends. That’s like if Bird decided to go play with Magic or something.”

It prompted a response from KD’s new teammate Draymond Green, who fired shots back at Pierce. But apparently, it didn’t soften Pierce’s stance on the situation. Because on Tuesday, Pierce appeared on ESPN’s The Jump and once again talked about KD leaving Oklahoma City to team up with Golden State. And he compared it to a kid teaming up with a group of bullies who beat him up.

“I’m not a guy who goes into the neighborhood, gets beat up by the bully’s gang, and then now I want to join their gang,” Pierce said. “[That’s] just not me. I want to fight. Let’s go! I mean, I’m gonna stand up for myself. That’s just the competitive nature of where I come from, the era I grew up in.”

Pierce isn’t the only former or current NBA player who has criticized KD for joining the Warriors. But he has been one of his most outspoken critics, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to let KD off the hook for it anytime soon. KD, meanwhile, seems to be at peace with his decision and has stopped responding to players like Pierce who have been critical of him. You can check out Pierce’s full KD rant in the clip above.

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LeBron James Exchanges Words With Heckler and Reporter After Frustrating Game Against Celtics

LeBron James had a tough time against the Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night. He only scored 11 points during the game—and didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter—as the Celtics overcame what was a 21-point deficit at one point to win 111-108 on a buzzer beater from Avery Bradley. It was LeBron's lowest point total in 107 career home playoff games, according to ESPN, and it was just the second time in LeBron’s playoff career that he was held scoreless for an entire fourth quarter.

Needless to say, LeBron was frustrated while speaking with reporters during his post-game press conference. He was asked to explain what happened, and he responded by saying he had “a tough game, period.”

“Me personally, I didn’t have it,” he said. “My teammates did a great job of keeping us in the game, building that lead. But me personally, I didn’t have it. That’s all I’ve got to say about my performance.”

And a short time later, LeBron took his frustrations out on Kenny Roda, who works for Cleveland radio station WHBC. Roda asked LeBron about his poor performance during the game, and LeBron responded by asking Roda why he only comes around to ask questions to him after Cavaliers’ losses.

“I was just pretty poor,” LeBron said. “What else do you want me to say? It seems like you only ask questions when we lose…You always come around when we lose, I swear.”

LeBron also reportedly shot Roda a look when his press conference was over:

Roda responded on Twitter by pointing out that he has been to four of the five Cavaliers’ home playoff games this season:

It wasn’t the only example of LeBron showing off his frustration following the game, either. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, LeBron was also involved in a tense altercation with a fan on his way to his post-game press conference. The fan apparently heckled LeBron for only scoring 11 points, which prompted LeBron to yell “What did you do?” in his direction. The fan responded by shouting back about how he had played basketball at a local college called Hiram College before he was whisked away by security guards.

Despite the loss on Sunday night, the Cavaliers still have a 2-1 lead over the Celtics in the ECF and will look to move one step closer to the NBA Finals when they return to court for Game 4 in the Cleveland. It’s hard to imagine LeBron playing as poorly as he did in Game 3 when that game takes place.

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Kristine Leahy Has Received Death Threats Following Confrontation With LaVar Ball

Kristine Leahy, the Fox Sports host, got into a kerfuffle with LaVar Ball, darling of the sports media world, Wednesday. Ball appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, the show for which Leahy serves as a co-host, marking yet another appearance for Ball on Fox Sports 1’s programming schedule.

During the show, Ball and Leahy had an incredibly awkward and tense showdown. Leahy asked Ball about the sales for his son’s shoe, the first kicks from Big Baller Brand, and Ball did not take well to it. He appeared to be upset about something Leahy had previously said about BBB and how the brand will not succeed unless it learns how to market to women.

You can watch the standoff below.

Leahy responded to the interview on FS1’s Speak For Yourself Wednesday.

People continue to get really worked up about all things involving LaVar Ball, apparently, because the response Leahy has gotten has been…well, troubling. Leahy said Thursday she has received death threats.

“I think I’m gonna talk more about this later on ‘Speak for Yourself,’ some of the other issues that have come up,” Leahy said. “Now I’m getting death threats, so, I’ll leave it at that.”

On Thursday’s episode of The Herd, Cowherd explained what really went down during the interview and said Ball is “a bully.”

“My issue with what happened is just a complete lack of respect,” Leahy said. “He can disagree with everything I have to say and do it passionately…but have some respect, don’t threaten me, don’t make personal jokes, don’t mock me, and don’t say you’re not going to look me in the eye.”

Leahy also said she hopes Fox Sports 1 and ESPN will stop having Ball on their programs.

“He says a lot of controversial things,” Leahy said. “He’s loud and a big personality, which I’ve been totally fine with. But I hope that yesterday showed who he is and that we stop putting him on all these networks just to get controversial statements out of him.”

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LaVar Ball Won’t Shut Up Until His Son Lonzo Is on the Lakers

Even if you're tired of Lavar Ball's personality or the price of the merchandise he's selling, there's something endearing about him taking on the sneaker establishment. Players only have a few legitimate options for shoe deals when they enter the NBA, and there's nothing wrong with he and Lonzo Ball fighting to get what they feel is “fair” value for his services. Any parent or young professional would do the same.

But one area where the elder Ball seems most delusional is in his public insistence his son will play for the Lakers at the start of his career. He doubled down on the idea again on Monday, telling ESPN's Ramona Shelburne he's going to speak his wishes into existence.

“Oh, he's going to be a Laker,” said LaVar. “I'm going to keep talking about it until it happens.”

Before dreams of his son in purple and gold get too vivid, Ball may want to take a gander at the Lakers' odds of retaining their 2017 first-round pick. Los Angeles owes their pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside the top-three, which has a better than 50 percent chance of happening. The Lakers might not have a chance to even make a selection if ping pong balls don't bounce in their favor, which would make it nearly impossible for them to acquire Ball anytime in the near future.

LaVar certainly isn't the first parent to steer their child to a specific team, and wanting your son to stay close to home is understandable. But being too overzealous about it is not doing any favors to Lonzo. Teams aren't going to shy away from selecting Ball because of a supposed preference to play for the Lakers, and his new fanbase would have all the incentive in the world to badger him about it if he struggles at the next level. Pressure will already be high for a player expected to be selected in the top three, and this is one more thing Lonzo doesn't really need on his plate as a rookie.

Beyond his insistence on which team his son will play for, LaVar also told a ridiculous story about his background as a trainer and the impact it had on how he toilet trained his sons:

A personal trainer by trade, he's been shaping his own kids from sunrise to sundown since they were born, loading them up with food, swagger and tough love. He says he had them walking by the time they were 8 months and potty-trained by 10 months.

'I put a scarf under their arms and I just hold them up like a bungee cord so they get their balance,' he says. 'Nobody had Pampers on. I'd wake their ass up in the middle of the night, put them on the toilet. Their cold ass hit that seat, so it was like a mechanism. Cold ass, piss. Now go back to sleep.'

With a personality as domineering as LaVar's, it's almost a surprise he lets his boys piss by themselves as adults. He has been heavily involved in every step of his sons' lives—for better or worse—and is unlikely to stop influencing their future just because one of them is about to turn pro. 

And in Lonzo Ball's case, he's reportedly quite happy to let his dad continue to do the talking. “I believe what he says,” said Lonzo. “And I'm 100 percent behind it.”

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