Lonzo Ball has no time for fair-weather Los Angeles Lakers fans.
He only wants to deal with the realest supporters.
The rookie tweeted out the following on Sunday night, after the Lakers fell to the Utah Jazz:
If you not with us now don't be with us later… we gone figure it out ??
— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) October 29, 2017
People will poke fun at this because he’s Lonzo Ball. Others will question whether it’s even his place, as a rookie, to say this. But the kid has a point—a legitimate, salient point.
NBA teams are most popular when they’re winning. That includes the Lakers. They’re on National TV every five seconds even though they stink, because their brand is strong, but they would be forced down our throats at a higher clip if they were winning.
Ball, meanwhile, has been saddled with the expectations of the entire franchise. And we’re not just talking about his father, LaVar, spitting game in his son’s favor. Team president Magic Johnson essentially coined Lonzo the face of the franchise before he ever took the court. It’s because of Lonzo the Lakers are even as popular as they are right now. LaVar has turned him and the Ball family into a brand, and people want to see—and even hate-watch—that brand in action.
Mostly, though, there is a genuine simplicity in Ball’s tweet.
Young players and teams shouldn’t have to answer for a rebuilding process, unless it becomes an inescapable hellhole over the span of years. The Lakers aren’t at that point.
Those who are annoyed, or even the least bit surprised, by the team’s 2-4 start set their expectations too high. These Lakers were never going to contend for a playoff berth. They’re relying on a bunch of youngsters and players who are competing for their next contract. They’ve prioritized cap flexibility next summer over continuity and competition now. Which, whatever. That’s part of their process. And Ball and friends must be given the chance to complete the process. And that takes time, even if the Lakers hit gold in free agency. And that means waiting on them, which also means at times rooting for a bad team, which in turn means your fandom has to stretch deeper than wins and losses and must place emphasis on virtues like progress and effort.