NEW YORK — Lonzo Ball glides a silver sharpie across hundreds of trading cards. There's a over a dozen cameramen snapping pictures. At least five videographers are circling around the likely No. 2 pick in the 2017. His trainer, Darren Moore, stands watch by the entrance of the plush conference room within the NBPA's headquarters. Ball and Moore have been ironing out every tiny wrinkle in the point guard's game ahead of Thursday night. They also logged hours scribbling iterations of Ball's autograph, etching pen into whatever paper they could find over the past several weeks. "We spent some nights," Ball laughs. "It used to be pretty bad." Now, his signature curves and flows like his game.
While Ball gave his John Hancock to numerous Panini products—the official trading card partner of the NBA, which will produce rookie cards that feature autographs and memorabilia throughout the entire 2017-18 season—The Crossover sat down with the Chino Hills product for an interview. During the NBA draft, Panini America will be creating players' first NBA Rookie Card in real-time as each prospect is selected. The collectable will be available immediately at PaniniInstant.com.
(The following interview was lightly edited and condensed).
Jake Fischer:What’s going to be your first purchase with your NBA contract?
Ball: “Probably a place to live.”
JF:It’s about time you got out of your parents’ house?
LB: “Yea, for sure.”
JF: If you weren’t a professional basketball player, what would you do for a career?
LB: “I’d be a rapper. I got a lot of tracks, I just ain’t dropped them yet, to be honest.”
JF:Really? How many do you have?
LB: “Enough for a tape. I got a close friend who raps. The only remix we did was the one we put out, to be honest. All of the rest of them are original. I write when I get bored, when I have nothing to do.”
JF:Is that something Big Baller Media is one day going to work on?
LB: “I think it would be fun, yea.”
JF: What’s your favorite food?
LB: “Pancakes or cinnamon rolls.”
JF:Do the pancakes have to be made by your dad?
LB: “Yea, I like my dad’s. He puts strawberries on them.”
JF: Who’s your favorite non-basketball athlete and why?
LB: “I’ll go with Cam Newton. He’s my favorite NFL player. I think he’s a good person, or he seems like one. I don’t really know him. He was supposed to give me a championship, but people be knocking his head off, you know?”
JF:Are you a Panthers fan?
LB: “My dad played for them. The Panthers and the Jets. But I don’t like the Jets.”
JF: Do you have a celebrity crush?
LB: “Nah. Not at the moment.”
JF:Well, have you ever been in love?
LB: “I’ma say yea because I have a girlfriend and she might get mad."
JF:What’s the funniest story about your dad that hasn’t been told?
LB: “That hasn’t been told? [Laughs]. His whole life has been out there. Have you heard him talk to the media? He leaves out nothing. He can go for a long time.”
JF:A lot of guys in each draft class become pretty good friends. Are you tight with anyone in particular in this class?
LB: “I know a lot of people from high school already. I don’t really have a chance to talk to ‘em because I’ve been doing a lot of stuff. But, they know I’m happy for them too. I like Malik [Monk], [De’Aaron] Fox, Bam [Adebayo]. Those are the main ones that come to my head.
JF:What are you wearing Thursday night?
LB: “A nice black suit. I like it. It’s pretty simple though. All black and a bow tie. I don’t wear [neckties.]”
JF:Have you paid any attention to the Paul George rumors or the Lakers trading D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn?
LB: “Nah, I don’t really pay attention to rumors. Until it happens, I don’t really care about it.”
JF: How would you react if the Lakers call your name at No. 2?
LB: “I would be really happy. I’d get to stay home and it would be a dream come true.”
JF: How would you react if they don’t call your name?
LB: “That’s fine. I’d still make it to the NBA, which is my other dream.”