Every time a young player comes back home to play his first NBA game in his hometown, it's a bit of a special moment for them, especially if we're talking about a leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year award.
However, LaMelo Ball isn't like most young players. He's been used to being in the spotlight since he was a kid, so he's not that excited about going back to California to play against the Los Angeles Lakers.
When asked about it in a video conference, Ball said that it was just another basketball game and that he didn't grow up looking up to LeBron James like his brother Lonzo. Instead, he claimed that his father LaVar was his role model:
“I mean, nah. I grew up a little different. Not really on basketball like that. So, not really. (My role model) It was my Pops. So, I was big on family and stuff like that. Not really with the basketball (...) I go to every game with the same approach -- going in to try to get a win," Ball told reporters, according to ESPN.
LaMelo said that he's looking forward to seeing his friends and family watching him play as they did during his days at Chino Hills but later found out that they wouldn't be allowed in attendance for this game:
"Obviously you want your family to come see you, and then growing up, they always watched me, so it would kind of be like going in the past. (...) I didn't even know that (they couldn't come). I mean, I know my people. They'll be cool watching it on TV, too. We really like chilling at the house, more with the comfortable stuff other than being out. Like, I honestly would rather watch a game at home, chilling, than going to one," he concluded.
That focus is one of the things that makes LaMelo Ball such a special young man. He's just looking to do his job and be great, and nothing else.