From being selected No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft to being introduced at the team’s practice facility and throwing out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium, it was a whirlwind 24 hours for Lonzo Ball.
The UCLA product was on hand at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the NBA Draft on Thursday night, along with members of his family, and the group took a red-eye flight to Los Angeles in order to make the scheduled press conference Friday afternoon.
The day was much easier for Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. A noted Lakers fan, Jansen was informed a day prior by Dodgers chief marketing officer Lon Rosen that the Lakers’ top pick would be on hand; regardless of who the team selected second overall.
Jansen requested that he have the honor of catching the first pitch. As Ball walked to the mound, Jansen emerged from the dugout wearing a gold Magic Johnson jersey. “I tried to get the Shaq Diesel jersey, because that’s my favorite player and hero,” Jansen said.
“[But] it was awesome to get Magic Johnson’s jersey. He’s the Lakeshow, man, he started it,” Jansen explained. “He’s our owner, and he’s done a terrific job making moves. You can see the Lakers franchise is on the right direction. He did it as a player, so now he’s going to do it as a team president too.
Aside from what’s being heralded as a successful draft that included four picks, the Lakers on Thursday also completed their trade with the Brooklyn Nets. The deal not only paved the way for Ball to take over as the unquestioned point guard but also cleared salary cap space by shedding Timofey Mozgov’s contract.
“They’re going in the right direction, and it’s going to be fun,” Jansen said. “Magic knows what he’s doing, plus he has Pelinka. They’ve got a good staff. You have one of the best up and coming head coaches in Luke Walton. Everything is looking bright for the Lakers future right now.”