Bulls-Hornets the backdrop to Ball bro’s latest clash originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
For Lonzo and LaMelo Ball, the connection always comes back to the backyard.
There, along with younger brother LiAngelo and Father LaVar, they laid the groundwork for future success.
“Lots of backyard battles,” Lonzo said Monday morning, ahead of their third NBA clash.
LaMelo added, “We were still training every day, always in the garden, always training.”
For years, the brothers played together on the same team. But with the Pelicans and Hornets sharing two games last season, Monday night’s game between the Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte Hornets gives one of the brothers a chance to temporarily brag.
Not that Lonzo would take it.
“My dad is still talking. But as far as Melo and I are concerned, we haven’t really said too much,” Lonzo said. “We still speak regularly as brothers, without really opposing each other.”
The link is real. The appreciation for the lessons LaVar taught them is palpable. Both goalies are such selfless and pass first players as can be found in the league.
“Probably my Pops are just teaching us to play at an early age, always looking at the ground and finding the open man,” Lonzo said when asked where that trait came from. “So it’s definitely instilled by our father.”
Lonzo and LaMelo both said they were familiar with each other’s games, honed by my hours in the backyard and as AAU teammates.
“I think about his uniqueness,” Lonzo said when asked what he admires most about LaMelo’s game. “I think he plays the way he wants to play. And he’s been doing that his whole life. Just a different style of play, but it works for him.”
When asked what he admires about him as a brother, Lonzo didn’t hesitate.
“Just his work ethic,” he said. “Training with him from a young age he put a lot into the game. And you can see he’s reaping the rewards now.”
Does Lonzo see any similarities in their games?
“I think yes and no. Growing up I was more of a playmaker. He was like a double goalie. But he obviously has playmaker skills. He can do both. He’s a great goalscorer. “said Lonzo. “We played together for a long time. So he took a lot from my game but I think he adapted it to his own thing.”
Lonzo is averaging 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 43.2 percent on a 3-point range for the Bulls. LaMelo is 19.4 points, eight assists and 7.9 rebounds.
The three brothers spend much of the NBA offseason together. They don’t take these opportunities for granted.
“We talked about it for a long time, just by being here,” LaMelo said. “So it’s always a blessing. Playing the game we love. It’s really fun.”
As the youngest, LaMelo said he “certainly admired” and learned a lot from Lonzo and LiAngelo. And he sees what Lonzo said – that the older brother has found a home with the Bulls.
“They’re going to take you for you and let you play your own game,” LaMelo said. “This is obviously the best.”
Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago contributed.
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