Despite traveling from Boston, home of the Eastern Conference’s best team, to Montana, my home with no NBA connections worth mentioning, on Tuesday I couldn’t escape the constant media saturation and unhealthy fixation with rookie Lonzo Ball.
Everywhere I went through the routine steps of traveling and my daily routine there he was, Big Baller Jr. himself.
I don’t hate the rookie. I loathe and detest the outsized attention the rookie receives. Yesterday, as I traveled more than 2,400 miles across the country, I was pushed to my breaking point. Here’s a tick-tock of how it was impossible for me to avoid the strange-shooting, ego-empowered son of Lavar Ball.
4:30 a.m. ET, Boston -- My father begrudgingly agreed to give me an early-morning ride to Logan International Airport. We discussed the Rockets outgunning the New Orleans Pelicans after deciding defense would take the night off. Inexplicably we ended up on the media’s fixation with Lonzo Ball. I expressed my utter disbelief that every podcast I put in my ears discusses Ball for at least five minutes despite him being on the outside of the league’s best eight rookies (after review I’ll now say he’s the league’s 8th best rookie*).
6 a.m. ET, Boston — I buy a copy of the New York Times while listening to the Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal podcast. I fell asleep on the plane while this podcast was playing. I assume there was a Lonzo reference in the podcast, but can’t confirm.
10 a.m. MT, somewhere over Utah — I saved the New York Times sports section for last. As I get to the last page of the paper there’s Lonzo staring at me. Two-thirds of the final page is a story comparing Lonzo’s unique shot to former Rocket Kevin Martin.
Me in car to airport: “Lonzo Ball isn’t even on of the NBA’s 8 best rookies. But I have to read and hear about him every day.”— Max Croes (@CroesFire) December 12, 2017
*buys NYT in airport*
*gets to sports section on last 10 minutes of flight*
*final page — 2/3rds page story about Lonzo Ball’s shot*
10:30 a.m. MT, Salt Lake City International Airport — I slide up to the bar at the High West Distillery and prepare to ask if Utah allows them to serve alcohol yet when I stop. There’s Lonzo staring at me from the TV as ESPN hypes their evening contest between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers as if it’s the 1970 NBA Finals, or the 1972 NBA Finals, or the 1973 NBA Finals.
You’re going to love this. You saw it 20 minutes later pic.twitter.com/Hf3S6id0UT— Max Croes (@CroesFire) December 12, 2017
11 a.m. MT, SLC Airport Tarmac — Deicing the plane was taking forever so I flip off airplane mode and pull out Tom Ziller’s “Good Morning It’s Basketball,” rolling my eyes at a taunting link to the New York Times story and the news LiAngelo and LaMelo both signed with a Lithuanian basketball team.
11:30 a.m. MT, Somewhere over Idaho — I’m making my way through Bill Simmons’ latest article, “The NBA Trades That Need To Happen,” and he couldn’t make it through without a Lonzo reference. At least it was in jest and linked to last week’s Kevin O’Connor article about Lonzo’s shot being broken.
1:30 p.m. MT, my home, Helena, Montana — Arriving home from the airport I get to work unpacking while firing up Zach Lowe’s latest podcast. Lowe didn’t leave me hanging. In the first five minutes Lowe and Kevin Pelton talk about Lonzo Ball, leading Lowe to declare they don’t need to talk about him.
2:30 p.m. MT, Helena — I make it perhaps 10 posts through Facebook, the world’s most reliable source of news, before discovering the breaking news that Lonzo Ball showed up to a basketball game wearing a hoodie with his own face replacing Nas on the Illmatic album cover.
This was a critical Lonzo update. In October we saw this shirt design ... BUT it was ONLY worn by Lonzo’s manager. So it was really important for us to write and read a dozen stories about how Lonzo himself wore the shirt this time.
4 p.m. MT, Driving to the grocery store — I had not finished the Zach Lowe podcast from earlier. Lowe and Pelton had now been joined by Ramona Shelburne and around minute 40 they get back to talking about Lonzo. Sigh ... Shelburne, to her credit and my delight, was roasting Lonzo’s lack of shooting confidence. The conversation didn’t last long, but the latest reference left me disinterested in wearing earbuds around the grocery store. Instead I eavesdropped on far more stimulating local banter.
I resolved myself to not listen to a podcast for the rest of the day.
9 p.m. MT, a local Helena bar — I specifically went to the local brewery with no TVs to watch the band and avoid the Lakers-Knicks battle of wannabe playoff teams. I mistimed my departure from the brewery and arrived at the next bar just as the game was going to overtime. Right there in front of me...
9:30 p.m. MT, Walking home from the bar — At the bar my buddy’s young son decided ketchup is overrated and began dunking his french fries in his ice water, then consuming them. It’s a revolutionary discovery which may change the way we eat, net the kid a James Beard Award and finally upstage Guy Fieri’s culinary genius. Naturally, I had to get proof of this up on Instagram. Lucky for me uploading the photo also came with an update. Nas roasted Lonzo like he was Jay Z.
Not vital information, but definitely the funniest Lonzo related information of the day.
1 a.m. MT, My home — After polishing off some Miller High Lifes to celebrate the surprise defeat of an accused child molester, I see a Dave McMenamin article come across Twitter, “LeBron James says he can relate to Lonzo Ball’s rookie-year experience.” Instead of clicking the link I calmly close my laptop, turn off my phone and lie down in bed. As I drift off to sleep, the only solace I have is that technology hasn’t advanced far enough to populate my dreams with sponsored content from Big Baller Brand.
The seven rookies I put ahead of Lonzo Ball in no specific order: Ben Simmons, Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell, Dennis Smith Jr., Jayson Tatum and Lauri Markkanen