The NBA Draft is this Thursday, June 22. If this report by Jack Maloney on CBS Sports is to be believed, Lonzo Ball, UCLA's dynamic player isn't a sure thing at pick 2 with the Lakers. Lonzo's dad, Lavar Ball, and Lonzo's agent have almost exclusively spoken with the Lakers.
Lonzo's worked out twice with L.A. He hasn't worked out with any other team. But, the Philadelphia 76'ers traded 3 first round draft picks to Boston to move up 3 spots. Are they intent on drafting Markelle Fultz, the consensus number 1? Will they draft Ball, and pressure Magic Johnson and the Lakers? Will L.A. decide to draft down? Or, will the Lakers draft a player other than Ball?
No matter what happens, Laker Fan needs to chill out. Even if Lonzo ends up in the purple and gold, he's nowhere near the player that either Magic or Kobe Bryant was.
What Separated Kobe and Magic?
Both Kobe and Magic are 2 of the greatest basketball players to ever live. Magic became a 5-time NBA Champion, a 3-time NBA Finals MVP, and a 3-time NBA Most Valuable Player. He also led Michigan State to a National Championship over Larry Bird and Indiana State in the late 1970's.
But, none of that adds up to his greatest accomplishment. Magic's greatest accomplishment ever is beating HIV/AIDS. Magic Johnson is the first high-profile heterosexual person to ever announce that he had HIV. This was in 1991-1992. Magic changed his lifestyle to the point where the HIV virus became undetectable in his bloodstream. Before any of the drugs that we use today to fight HIV/AIDS were developed, Magic was already beating the disease.
You've got to have a certain mind-set to beat any disease. Magic has that. He's one of the most successful person I've ever read about.
Kobe has a mind-set like Magic's. Kobe Bryant skipped college. He went directly from high school to the NBA. Drafted in Round 1 by the Lakers in 1996, Bryant went on to become a 5-time NBA Champion, an NBA Most Valuable Player, and an 18-time NBA All-Star. He's one of the Top 10 greatest players to ever step onto a basketball court.
Although Kobe never played in college, his mindset was such that he required his team to try and play at his level. Kobe brought the best out of everyone around him. Up until his final game in 2016, Bryant led the Lakers. If the Kobe led Lakers hadn't lost the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics in 2008, Bryant would have equaled the great Michael Jordan with 6 NBA Championships.
What really separated both Magic and Kobe from almost every other player in the NBA? Leadership. Both Kobe and Magic played as great leaders. They're also excellent leaders in life. That's what makes them so successful.
2017 NBA Draft Prospect Lonzo Ball
Don't get me wrong, Lonzo is an excellent basketball player. He's one of the best in this Thursday's NBA Draft. I think he's going to help any team he ends up with. But, the problem I see with Lonzo is that he doesn't have the necessary leadership qualities to become Magic or Kobe. Players like Magic, Kobe, KD, Steph, Lebron, they relish the challenge.
I watched Ball all season while he played for UCLA. The talent is definitely there. But, he doesn't have the championship attitude, the killer instinct. At least, he doesn't have it yet. He might develop it. I hope he develops it.
If the Lakers draft Ball second in Round 1 on Thursday, lay off the kid, Laker Fan. Don't expect Kobe, or Magic, right away. If you do, you'll be disappointed. Not only that, but you might hurt Lonzo's development in the NBA. That's a bad thing for both team, and player.