The internet is not known for always being the most understanding when it comes to athletes. When the Lakers announced Lonzo Ball would be out for tonight’s game with an ankle sprain, social media exploded.
Why is there such excitement over a meaningless preseason game? It happened to be against the Sacramento Kings and fellow rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox. The rivalry goes back to college when UCLA faced Kentucky. Tonight is not the first time Ball has missed a game against Fox. The two were set to square off in summer league action, when Ball also sat out with an injury.
This has caused some fans (like the tweet below) to believe Ball seems to be conveniently hurt when he is about to face Fox.
Lakers coach Luke Walton did his best to try to pump the breaks on any sort of conspiracy theories when it comes to the Ball-Fox rivalry. Walton explained the reasoning for Ball sitting out to The Los Angeles Times.
“Well, he tried to do some stuff in practice yesterday and he couldn’t,” Walton told The Los Angeles Times. “Even before practice he was working with Miles and he was just limping around. It made no sense to try to have him play. If you can’t run and jump, there’s no reason to fight through that. We are just going to keep giving him treatment, and he will be day to day.”
Walton went on to say Ball could miss the rest of the preseason.
What evidence do fans have to believe Ball might be fearful to play Fox other than missing the last two outings? Fox dominated Ball when the two squared off in college during March Madness. Fox went off for 39 points, four assists and two steals as the Wildcats eliminated the Bruins. Ball finished with 10 points and eight assists.
Over the summer, Fox tweeted out this emoji before deleting it after learning Ball was going to miss the summer league game.
Fox admitted to ESPN that he likes the young rivalry with Ball.
“We embrace it,” Fox told ESPN (via Real Clear Sports). “It’s two great players really going at each other … to y’all, [the rivalry] is real.”
The two point guards will eventually square off once again. The next Lakers-Kings matchup counts and takes place in Sacramento on November 22. For now, fans will have to watch replays of the two battling in college.