Lakers teammates grill Lonzo Ball for walking away from scuffle

By @saihoops on
Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
Oct 19, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball (2) looks on during the second half against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. USA TODAY Sports / Kelvin Kuo

Lonzo Ball and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates had a chat about the rookie point guard walking away from a scuffle that ensued during the 122-113 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday. According to coach Luke Walton, the players quipped Ball in a locker room chat following the hard-fought game at the Staples Center.

In a tussle that involved Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tyler Ullis and Josh Jackson, among others, Ball was seen walking away and not trying to break up the players or standing up for his teammates. He paused to look back then kept walking towards the Lakers bench.

"Someone on our team talked with him. It's all part of the learning process," Walton said after a practice session on Saturday. However, the Lakers coach refused to disclose the identity of the player.

Luke Walton on Lonzo Ball: ‘Our guys still love him’

Following the incident, Ball was under fire from Lakers fans on social media, who questioned the rookie's leadership skills. Walton added that the players still respect Ball.

"I don't really care about how that looks because our guys love Zo. He's one of the few rookies I've ever seen that everybody is just kind of drawn toward him. Everyone really wants him to succeed. They all love playing with his group, whether it's practice or the game. I think they all know what that looked like isn't what Zo is about and isn't symbolizing what his feelings are on that type of situation. I know the general public and the internet world likes to do what they do."

Ball, often praised for his even-keeled temperament, explained his decision to walk away. "It's the NBA. People ain't really gonna fight. I ain't trying to get no technical."

Starting centre Brook Lopez sided with his rookie teammate. "I thought (Ball) was smart just staying away from it," said teammate Brook Lopez, who walked over to try to break things up. "He was staying out of trouble. I feel like I'm big enough where I can get in the middle of it. I'm not going to do anything crazy. I'm just trying to get everything under control."

The Los Angeles Lakers (6-10) will stay at home to host the Denver Nuggets on Sunday and the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday before visiting the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. The young Lakers team is not projected to qualify for the playoffs, despite the enormous pre-season hype surrounding Lonzo Ball.