‘He’s A Gym Rat Like I Was’ | Magic Johnson Raves About LaMelo Ball, Sees Him As the Next Generational Point GOD

(Photo: Getty Images)

Earvin “Magic” Johnson is universally recognized as the greatest point guard to ever play the game of basketball. At 6-foot-9, Johnson wowed us his entire career, and now Johnson is heaping praise on a current-day guard: Charlotte Hornets second-year guard LaMelo Ball. 

In an interview with NBA Radio, the five-time NBA champion said he sees a lot of himself in the rangy, passing wizard. 

“I think that when you look at him, he’s only going to get better and better and better. And he’s a gym rat like I was. So every year, he’s going to improve and look to get better.”

Ball arrived on the scene as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, having gone the non-typical route as he played overseas against pros instead of attending college. He’s the youngest and best of the three Ball brothers. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year is the catalyst of the steadily rising Charlotte Hornets. Ball combines brash Hollywood swagger with a high IQ. He’s made Michael Jordan’s franchise a nightly must-see in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Ball averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game during his rookie campaign, but he’s upped that to 20.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. At one point this season, he led the Hornets in all three categories.

 

He just received his first All-Star nod as an injury replacement for Kevin Durant. He scored 18 points and dished out three assists in 22 minutes.  

Ball’s averages are on par with the NBA and Lakers legend, who as a rookie averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game as he led the Lakers to an NBA championship. Johnson’s second season saw a jump just like Ball’s, as he went for 21.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game.

Johnson Thinks Ball Will Be A Perennial All-Star: Future Is Very Bright

Johnson talked about Ball’s future and where he believes the 20-year-old is headed.

“He’s gonna be at the All-Star weekend I think next year on, every single year because he has that type of game … They’re building something special down in Charlotte, and it starts with him at the point-guard position.”

That’s high praise coming from Johnson, who was recently honored as one of the 75 greatest NBA players in history. Most people have him comfortably in their Top 10, as the greatest Point GOD to ever live. 

Johnson won five championships, appeared in nine, won three NBA MVPs, three Finals MVPs, 12 All-Star appearances and nine first-team All-NBA selections. Johnson boasts career averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 11.2 assists per game.

Work Ethic Is Similar To Magic’s: Bodes Well For His Future

Being called a gym rat by the greatest to ever play your position bodes well for Ball. For someone who worked on his craft as arduously and consistently as Johnson did to take notice means Ball is doing things right so far. 

Johnson doctored up the “Showtime Lakers” from 1979 to 1991. His unrivaled court vision, stylistic handle and precision passes led an exciting run-and-gun style that had fans at the Great Western Forum on their feet nightly. Johnson’s unbelievable chemistry with Kareem Abdul-Jabari, James Worthy and others was a thing of beauty.

Not saying the Hornets are there yet, but with Ball dazzling with his tight handle and array of passes, plus Miles Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and others finishing at and above the rim, the Hornets have a little “Showtime In NC” in them.


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