New Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball was already a marked man before he even entered the NBA.

Thanks to a stylish freshman campaign at UCLA and his proud papa, LaVar Ball, Lonzo was hyped all the way to his podium introduction on draft night. Lonzo starred as a 6-foot-5-inch point guard with quick handles, futuristic passing vision and a quirky but effective jump shot. However, the package looked less than ideal this weekend when the Lakers kicked off summer league play.

FILE – In this Nov. 20, 2016, file photo, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball (2) walks by his father LaVar Ball, right, to greet family members after UCLA defeated Long Beach State in an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles. By now the entire basketball world knows Lonzo Ball is a singular talent with a unique parent. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker, File)

Lonzo is under the gun to perform, and it showed during the Lakers’ first two summer league games. The younger Ball looked tentative, indecisive and uncomfortable on the floor while the older Ball sat in the stands and absorbed all the heat and backlash from a year’s worth of chest-thumping and self-promotion. There’s nothing wrong with bragging about your children. But raising the bar for them and making claims that even the average superstar athlete couldn’t meet could be destructive to their psyches.

It might be time for the older Ball to pump the brakes on his outlandish proclamations, and just sit back and watch his son develop as a professional. Summer league play should never be anything to get too excited over, but Ball’s opening performances revealed a player who lacks quickness and foot speed. That’s not good for a point guard who’s been tasked with the assignment of resurrecting showtime in LaLa Land. Ball’s already questionable shooting form only raised more questions as he shot 7-for-28 overall in the opening two games, bricking his way to 2-of-16 from deep. Ball’s passes were nifty but perhaps overhyped, simply because Lakers fans couldn’t find much else to be excited about.

Ball’s athleticism wasn’t as advertised and his passes weren’t all that great. He’s a rookie, and his development will take time. Perhaps I bought too heavy into the older Ball’s advertising, but I’m not alone. The Thomas & Mack Center at University of Nevada Las Vegas was sold out on back-to-back nights for Ball’s debut—partly because of the Lakers’ large fan base, but mostly from Ball’s boasting. We’ve all bought into the hype over Lonzo Ball due to LaVar Ball’s bold mouth, but perhaps it’s time for everybody to just ease up.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO