Even in Milwaukee, Lonzo Ball and the Big Baller Brand are a main attraction

MILWAUKEE -- The jerseys and shirts were unmistakable. No matter where you looked in the Bradley Center on Saturday night, you could see the iconic purple and gold Lakers gear dotted around the arena. There were the generic Lakers shirts, and the Kobe Bryant jerseys, of course, but upon closer inspection, much, if not most, of the Lakers apparel was in support of one player: Lonzo Ball. And even if it wasn't Lakers gear, there were plenty of UCLA jerseys and Big Baller Brand swag.

Just 13 games into his rookie season, Ball is already a main attraction wherever he goes -- even in Milwaukee, one of the smallest NBA cities, and thousands of miles from Los Angeles. To think, Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the floor, and Eric Bledsoe was making his Milwaukee debut with the Bucks, and yet dozens upon dozens of people were in the Bradley Center solely to get a glimpse of the Big Baller Brand's leading star.

They came from Milwaukee and the surrounding suburbs, from Illinois and as far as Texas. Some were just fans of the rookie's game, and some were all in on the entire triple Bs brand, but regardless of where they fell on the Ball fandom spectrum, they couldn't wait to see Ball play.

Sitting courtside in a Big Baller Brand shirt, one fan, Austin, exemplified the enthusiasm that so many have for the Ball family.

"I'm a Lonzo fan," he said about 30 minutes before tip-off. "About three years ago I started following his brother, LaMelo, and I started following Lonzo after that." So excited was he to see Ball play, that him and his family flew in from Texas just for the occasion. "This is my first time seeing him live," Austin said. "He has two more games to beat LeBron's record for a triple-double. I'd like to see him get a triple-double, along with making some shots."

Ball, as it turned out, obliged the request, submitting his first NBA triple-double, and becoming the youngest player in NBA history to achieve the feat. The rook finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, but he didn't care about the accomplishment because the Lakers lost the game, 98-90.

The loss, however, mattered not to many of the Ball fans in attendance. In fact, Ball getting a triple-double in defeat was a perfect outcome for at least one fan. "I want Lonzo to have a good game. I want the Bucks to win though, I'm a Bucks fan," said Max, who was rocking a Big Baller Brand shirt and said he supported Lonzo because of his dad, LaVar.

There were likely plenty of people at the Bradley Center with the same split affections on Saturday night, but there were also diehard Lakers fans just as excited to see Ball play.

As one such fan, Ethan, who said he became a Lakers fan growing up because of the movie "Kazaam," relayed well before tip-off, "I'm 100 percent here to see Lonzo. I loved Lonzo at UCLA, I got a UCLA jersey on. I love Lonzo, he's the man." 

All of the self-promotion LaVar Ball has done for the past few years, all of the ridiculous radio and TV interviews, and going the independent route with Lonzo's shoes has brought plenty of attention and even hate on the Ball family. But Saturday night in Milwaukee showed why it was all worth it. 

As a 20-year-old rookie, thousands of miles from home, and up against perhaps the league's brightest young star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lonzo Ball was the main attraction. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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