John Wall plans to show rookie Lonzo Ball 'no mercy'
NBA.com staff reports
* Tonight on ESPN: Wizards vs. Lakers (10:30 ET)
Seven years ago, the Washington Wizards were fresh off a 26-win season and had the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft, John Wall, on the roster for 2010-11. Wall and the Wizards took their lumps, amassing 23, 20 and 29 wins over the next three seasons as the team tried to find its footing. The Los Angeles Lakers may be in that spot now, which is something Wall can fully relate to.
By the same token, Wall also heard the words LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, said on Tuesday and took note of them. Candace Buckner of The Washington Post has more:
What? You actually thought Wall, who fuels his fire with the doubt of others, didn’t see the video of the father of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball calling out his team? Naturally, Wall paid attention to LaVar Ball’s interview clip.
“Washington coming in here Wednesday? They better beware,” Ball said, while channeling his inner carnival-barker-meets-wrestling-heel persona. “Because Lonzo ain’t losing again! Not in the same week!”
Yet, even as Wall’s teammate Marcin Gortat chimed in with crying-while-laughing emoji and a pledge that “@JohnWall will torture [Lonzo] for 48 minutes,” Wall did not join in the chorus of mocking LaVar Ball’s audacity. But that doesn’t mean Wall will keep his cool Wednesday night when facing Lonzo Ball for the first time under the Staples Center spotlight.
“Nah, no mercy,” Wall responded when asked if he would show leniency to the 19-year-old rookie point guard despite his braggadocious father.
“Certain matchups you really get up for. Like when you play [Golden State Warriors guard] Steph [Curry], you definitely want to have a good game,” Wall said. “I’m playing against [Ball]. [Gortat] said what he said about me. I didn’t say anything. His dad has been talking. … That makes me want to go out there and lead my team and play the best I can play.”
Although Wall said he wouldn’t go as far as Beverley did in intentionally harassing Ball, he has expressed a familiar refrain from NBA vets who feel the father’s interviews are not helping the son. While most high lottery draft picks receive their share of hype — Wall acknowledges the media pressure that followed him throughout his rookie season as the No. 1 selection in 2010 — LaVar Ball has cranked up the noise even louder.
“His dad has gone on top of all that,” Wall said. “Forget what the media is saying. ‘This is what my son is.’ Which, I’m not knocking him. He’s hyping his son up but he’s already getting all that hype. … He’s just taking it to another level.
“We didn’t say nothing about him, nothing to him, and he says, ‘The Wizards better be ready because he don’t ever lose two in a row,’” Wall continued, then scoffed at the absurdity of the father’s boast. “Like, this is the league now. It’s a different ballgame.”
Gortat spelled out the reasoning behind his Twitter response.
“I’m just sticking up for my teammate and my team,” Gortat said. “The guy is going to go public and say stuff like that. It’s funny because he’s not even playing and he’s saying all this stuff, you know. He’s just putting his son in a spot, but at the end of the day, it’s all right. It’s nothing against Lonzo. I don’t know him. He’s a good kid. Talented kid, but he’s got to go against John.”
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For the record, here’s what Gortat tweeted in response to LaVar Ball’s video …
man….. pleaseeeeee!!! @JohnWall will torture him for 48min 😂😂😂😂
— Marcin Gortat🇵🇱 (@MGortat) October 23, 2017
And here is the response from Ball and teammate Brandon Ingram about Gortat’s tweet: