Daily Bruin’s Sports editor David Gottlieb and senior staffer Matt Cummings recently caught up with Los Angeles Lakers rookie and ex-Bruin point guard Lonzo Ball about the beginning of his NBA career and the start of his family’s new reality TV show, “Ball in the Family.”
Daily Bruin: Just want to start out by asking what are you up to these days? What are your days like at this point?
Lonzo Ball: Pretty much just work out at the facility and eat and sleep right. That’s pretty much it.
DB: About the first season of the reality show, do you watch the episodes?
LB: Yeah, I’ve seen the first three.
DB: What’s it like to watch them? Is it weird that your family’s in the spotlight so much? I know you had a bit of it playing at UCLA but it’s bigger than ever now, I guess.
LB: I mean, at first it was a little weird, but after we got used to all the camera crew and stuff and we became friends, it was pretty easy. So watching the episodes now, it’s nice that everything worked out.
DB: What’s been your favorite part of the show so far?
LB: My favorite part is just being able to show people how we are as a family, not around basketball all the time, just being in our daily lives.
DB: Who do you watch the shows with when you watch them?
LB: Usually watch them with my dude D-Mo and my girl Denise. We’re always together so we always watch them together.
DB: Have other guys on the Lakers been watching it, have they been talking to you about it at all?
LB: I’m not sure. They haven’t really come to me and talked about it.
DB: So they don’t make fun of you for it.
DB: You talked about watching it with your girlfriend. Is it weird to see your relationship with her be so public now?
LB: It’s definitely different, but like I said, you know, we got used to it and we’re happy that it’s all out there for everybody to see.
DB: How accurately would you say the show portrays the relationship between you and your girlfriend?
LB: It’s pretty accurate. I mean, we’re always together. She’s always been there for me so nothing’s fake, nothing’s scripted or anything. We just do what we’re doing, that’s about it.
DB: What everyone wants to know is does (LaMelo Ball) have a girlfriend?
LB: (laughs) Melo, uh, yeah, he has a girlfriend now.
DB: Oh, he does? And when it was in the show, he did but he didn’t want to talk about it?
LB: I mean, I don’t think it was official, but it’s official now.
DB: How’s your mom doing? What’s it been like for you watching her as she recovers from this and how’s she doing now?
LB: Yeah, she’s definitely getting better and better every day, and my dad keeps working with her every day. So, you know, I’m happy to see her progression over time and just waiting for her to get all the way back.
DB: LaVar (Ball) talked a lot about his approach, how he’s not asking for therapists to come in, he wants to do a lot of it himself. What do you think about that approach and how it’s worked out for your mom?
LB: I think it worked out in her favor because he can push her to the limit that other people probably can’t. Just because he’s known her for so long and probably knows her better than anybody else in this world. So I like the idea and it’s definitely working so I’m all for it.
DB: Your dad gets a lot of people saying bad things about him, but the show shows him in a pretty good light, especially working with your mom and stuff and just how much he cares about you guys. How do you think the show will change the way people see him; do you think it will?
LB: Yeah, I think they’ll get another side. I mean, everybody just sees him around basketball and the media like that, talking how he talks, but they don’t really see him around our family and my mom. He definitely acts a little different and I think the show gives people a chance to see the real him.
DB: So you would say the real LaVar is with the family, not what everyone sees in the media?
LB: I mean in the media, he’s definitely going to be himself, but you don’t get the full aspect of it. But around our family and the TV show, you can see that.
DB: One thing he says in the show is that if you all three get to the NBA then he’ll sort of back off and let you guys do your own thing. Do you believe that, do you believe he’ll sort of remove himself like that?
LB: I mean, that’s all he wants for us – the best. So, obviously, the NBA is the highest place you can be for a basketball player. So, once that happens, I think yeah, he’ll be satisfied and he’ll tone down a little bit.
DB: What do you think of Melo’s shoe?
LB: I like it a lot, to be honest with you.
DB: Better than yours?
LB: Better than mine? (laughs) Um, I’m going to say no just because I’ve got to go with my own shoe because it has my name on it. So, no.
DB: So your rap career just started. How do you feel about the first song?
LB: I liked it. It was a good opportunity to do that for my little brother, man, so I took advantage of it and just working in the studio was a lot of fun so any time I have a chance, some free time to do some stuff, I’ll always look into it.
DB: Are you going to have more songs coming out soon?
LB: Definitely have more music coming soon.
DB: And was (LiAngelo Ball) mad he didn’t get a song?
LB: (laughs) I mean, Gelo’s a little bit restricted right now just because he’s at UCLA and they’ve got all those rules for college, you know.
DB: What’s your biggest piece of advice to him for his first year at UCLA, knowing that you’ve been through it? He’s going to be living in the same apartment. What have you told him about what to expect and how to have a good year?
LB: Uh, just stay focused, and don’t shift into the outside noise. Just stay focused on your grind, on your craft and do what you can to get prepared for the league, and that’s about it, man. I mean, being in LA, there’s a lot of distractions and stuff so I think as long as he just stays focused, he’ll be alright.
DB: You talk about staying focused. Do you ever worry about your younger brothers, especially LaMelo because he’s still so young, going through this process of the next few years of high school and college with so much attention? I mean, people knew your name when you were in high school but obviously it’s on a whole other level now. Melo has a million Instagram followers. Do you worry about how much attention he’s getting at such a young age and how he’ll deal with it?
LB: No, I think they’ll be alright just based on the fact that I already went through it all first. So they can always come to me and they’ve already seen the path that I took. All you’ve got to do is follow that path and you’ll be alright.
DB: In terms of the brand, what’s the next step for the brand? And how involved are you in the company or are you kind of just playing ball?
LB: I mean, as far as the next step, I really don’t have too much to go for that. That’s something you’ve got to ask my dad, but you know, I’m definitely a big part of it. I can chip in whatever information I want, bringing them any ideas I have for stuff so very flexible but as far as the next move, I don’t think I’m advised enough to answer that question.
DB: How good are the Lakers going to be this season?
LB: I think we have a good chance to make the playoffs. That’s the main goal and I think we should come together as one collective unit and try to get that done.
DB: What’s it going to be like to play your first real NBA game and your first game at (the STAPLES Center)? What’s that going to be like for you, have you thought about that?
LB: Yeah, I think it’s going to be really cool, man. Just looking forward to playing my first game in there, it’s a home game so it should be rocking in there and like I said, I’m just looking forward to it. Looking forward to having a lot of fun this year.
DB: Do you feel any pressure? Lakers fans expect a lot out of you.
LB: Well, as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a lot of expectations for me so what I do, I just go in there and just try to do whatever I can to help my team win. I play how I like to play and then let the chips fall where they may.
DB: A few questions about stuff that’s happened in the show. One thing that I think a lot of people are wondering is when Melo talked about your apartment being a good place for “you-know-what,” what does that mean?
LB: (laughs) Uh, I don’t know, you would have to ask him. He says a lot of crazy stuff that only he knows what he’s talking about so that’s definitely a question you’ve got to ask him.
DB: What do you think it’s been like for him to grow up in front of so many people? You know, you see stuff like LaVar pulling him aside and parenting him right in front of close to a million people.
LB: Yeah, I mean, he’s still a kid. He just turned 16 so he’s got a lot to learn. It’s kind of crazy that, like you said, he’s growing up in front of everybody, but I think he should be okay and I know he’s having a lot of fun being on the cameras all the time.
DB: How did it feel to beat him at Six Flags with that basketball competition and get that watch back?
LB: Oh, I mean, that’s the usual so, nothing new for me. I mean, I always beat him in whatever we do.
DB: Another thing we were wondering based on the show, do you not know how to cut food?
LB: I do know how to cut food. I just don’t feel the need to if I have somebody else do it for me. It’s like, what’s the point?
DB: Can they cut it better or you just don’t want to expend the energy?
LB: I just don’t feel the need to put in the energy if someone can do it for me.
DB: Is it a limiting-risk type of thing where you don’t want to get injured in a food-cutting incident, is that what’s going on?
LB: (laughs) Nah, it’s just the wasted movements. Like I said, if I have somebody do it for me, there’s no reason for me to do it.
DB: You’re at the stage where you’ve reached the NBA. The expectations for your brothers are to do the same thing? Do you think that makes it tougher or easier for them? They have an example but at the same time, they have those expectations. What kind of effect do you think that has on them?
LB: I mean, obviously there’s pros and cons. A pro, like you said, is the path’s already set, but the con is they’re always going to be compared to me. What I tell them is be your own person, be your own player and don’t worry about the outside noise.
DB: With the show, there’s so much Big Baller Brand apparel. You can’t watch a single second of the show without seeing a bunch of it. What’s it like on set? Are there just boxes of shirts everywhere?
LB: Nah, we already – I mean, most of the filming is done where we live at and stuff, so it’s always, you know, shirts on deck that we already have.
DB: So that’s actually how you guys dress every day?
LB: I mean, yeah, it’s our brand so I don’t understand why we would wear other stuff even though we do have the freedom to.
DB: Even for people like your grandparents on your mom’s side, that’s the stuff they’re wearing all the time, too?
LB: Yeah, the whole family. Everybody wears the brand.
DB: UCLA fans got to see you play last year, now they’re going to get to see your brother. How is his game different and what should they expect from him?
LB: His game’s a lot different. He’s just a pure scorer, he’s run the wing his whole life and he’s the best shooter out of us three so he’s just buckets. Give him the ball and he puts it in the hole.
DB: How many UCLA games do you think you’ll be at this year? Are you going to be coming around a lot?
LB: If I can make it, I’m definitely going to be there. You know, supporting the team. Whatever games I can make, I’ll definitely be there.