As many of you know, Lonzo Ball went second overall to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Draft. There is no other team he and his outspoken dad, Lavar, wanted to play for or learn from. They even declined workouts with other teams because they were “not needed.”
Danny Ainge, General Manager of the Boston Celtics invited Lonzo Ball to Boston to come work out for the team and to talk. Lonzo politely declined the offer. While Lonzo has every right to deny a request to work out for a team, should he have turned down the meeting with Danny Ainge?
In a word, no.
It was not 100% certain Lonzo Ball was to be drafted by the Lakers. While it seemed likely, anything could have happened. If the Lakers choose not to draft him, he needed a backup plan. I’d say the Boston Celtics are a pretty good backup plan. The team has great ownership, coaches, and players and can help Lonzo Ball transition into the NBA as a successful point guard.
But way more importantly, he should have taken the meeting because of Danny Ainge himself. Ainge is not only the General Manager of the Celtics, he’s also a former NBA player. Ainge won two championships as a player with the Boston Celtics and played 14 seasons in the League. Even if Lonzo Ball did not want to play for the Celtics, he could have just sat down and had a conversation with Danny. Oh what he could have learned by spending time with a former player and current manager.
I am adamant that Lonzo Ball should have taken this opportunity to learn. He could have even told Danny Ainge face to face, “I do not want to play for the Celtics, but I would love to talk with you.” I’m sure Ainge would have mentored and helped out the young talent. And if he didn’t, well he would have been exposed to countless others within the Celtics’ organization opening up new opportunities to meet and to learn. We have all made mistakes and not taken meetings when we should have, but as we gain experience we realize a chance to learn is something not to take lightly.
Maybe Lonzo Ball will do just fine without that meeting, but it would have helped him at some point in his career. He has a long road ahead of him before he can achieve greatness in the NBA, and he has a lot to learn. At some point he will realize you can learn from any situation.
If it were me advising Lonzo Ball, I would have said, “take advantage of each moment to learn, those moments will pay great dividends in the long run.”
This goes for you, me and anyone else out there.
Photo of Derek Fisher by Keith Allison under the Creative Commons 2.0