Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball was forced to miss time due to injuries last season, much to the dismay of his father LaVar Ball.
The organization was cautious with Lonzo’s injuries during his rookie year as he recovered from a sprained MCL in his knee as well as an issue with his shoulder. Several teammates were held out of games as they recovered from various injuries as well.
Josh Hart, who was also selected in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft by the Lakers, fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand last season. Brandon Ingram also missed time due to a concussion, a groin injury and a knee injury. Kyle Kuzma suffered an ankle injury and Brook Lopez had an injured back.
LaVar, who recently spoke with HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy, is concerned about his son’s injuries. However, he seems to blame the Lakers’ head trainer Gunnar Peterson for the issues that arose throughout Lonzo’s rookie season.
“My expectation for Lonzo is for him to be twice as good as he was this year, and to be more healthy,” LaVar told HoopsHype. “He understands, he went through it. If you’re going to be doing those [workouts with] rubber-bands like that dude Gunnar has him doing, that [is] bullsh*t training. That’s what I call it. Sh*t, he wasn’t like that when I brought him over there. When he first came [to the Lakers], he never got hurt. He was never hurt.”
Peterson, who was a celebrity trainer before his gig with Los Angeles, has worked with Kim Kardashian since she was 19 years old. Other clients in the past have included Sly Stallone and Jennifer Lopez. Ball said that Peterson’s previous experience with notable clients doesn’t matter since his work ultimately led to numerous injuries.
After one season, LaVar was far from impressed with his son’s training regimen in the NBA.
“Now, you’ve got these guys talking about, ‘Well, I’ve got this special workout for Lonzo…’ No! Lonzo’s gotta lift that pig iron, that real iron, and he’s gotta run some hills. That’s stuff they don’t have him doing,” LaVar said. “Some of these guys try to act like they’re the best trainers in the world because they trained some people with some God-danged names. But me? I ain’t worried about the names. I want to see your production! You have all these players coming through. Well, why are they getting hurt?”
LaVar is used to being the trainer for his children and even before Lonzo was born, a “parade of kids” would come to his house to work on conditioning, shooting and passing. In fact, his work with the youth impressed both general manager Rob Pelinka and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.
“I’ve always been training my boys,” LaVar said. “The way my whole family is built, the training is in us. It ain’t like, ‘Oh, Lonzo needs to start lifting these weights and doing this or that.’ It’s about being strong and durable. If you’re training the right way, you’re going to get that. But everybody acts like it’s a special thing like, ‘Okay, this guy got big because he was [training] under this guy.’ No! Either you’re going to do it or you’re not. And a lot of people come in the [league] young not lifting weights. My boys were bred on lifting weights. Our whole damn family is buff. You think they weren’t lifting weights?! It’s not hard. You just have to have him doing the right things, eating right, and that’s how you get bigger and stronger.”
Lonzo played 52 games last season (including 50 as a starter), which means he missed 30 games for Los Angeles. Even so, that’s quite a bit more than he played at UCLA (36) including the NCAA Tournament.
The extra playing time, especially against NBA opponents, is bound to put more wear and tear on a young player.
Even with the time he missed, he ranked No. 12 overall among rookies for minutes played last year. He ranked ahead of fellow lottery picks like Josh Jackson, Frank Ntilikina, Luke Kennard, Jarrett Allen and Bam Adebayo. The only player selected before Lonzo in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz, only appeared in 14 games for the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s worth mentioning that Lonzo played more minutes as a rookie than players like James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal and DeMar DeRozan did during their first season in the NBA.