Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error EL SEGUNDO – Extensive research led Magic Johnson down a path that was not limited to watching Lonzo Ball play in person and on video.Johnson also traveled to Ball’s former high school in Chino Hills where the Lakers’ president of basketball operations asked detailed questions to his principal and four different teachers about the former UCLA guard. A consistent theme emerged as to what defines Ball as both a player and person.“Everybody is attracted to this guy,” Johnson said. “I thought this is all I needed to hear. He was a leader and treated people the right way. We got our man now.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBefore the Lakers ultimately selected Ball with their No. 2 pick, however, they wanted to see him work out at his Chino Hills residence.The reasons had little to do with the lukewarm reviews some observers gave Ball’s workout in El Segundo. Instead, they had more to do with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka believing the “process for us really became about the person and character.” In what Pelinka called an “eye-opening experience,” he and Johnson arrived at Ball’s home at 7:30 a.m. last week to see him completing a training regimen that includes sprinting up nearby hills. The Lakers’ front office watched Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar, handle his sons and neighborhood children with care, something they believe showed Lonzo the kind of leadership qualities that could elevate the Lakers.“You have to have a great leader and somebody that can make their teammates better and somebody that has incredible basketball IQ,” Johnson said. “The IQ is off the charts. He’s somebody that can get his teammates to follow.”Those are the same qualities Johnson had when he led the Lakers to five NBA titles in the 80s. When Johnson watched Ball games live and on video, he saw visions of himself and former All-Star point guard Jason Kidd. It seemed fitting since Ball’s father showed his son the same thing.“I was born in ’97 so I didn’t get to see him live,” Ball said, leading Johnson to laugh. “My dad definitely had some tape of him.” As a result, Pelinka likened Ball’s passing skills to NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady moments after saying, “I don’t like a lot of hyperbole.”Still, moments after Pelinka outlined how those qualities perfectly fit what Lakers coach Luke Walton wants with swift ball movement, he stressed those qualities do not just involve passing the ball.“Lonzo has the ability to be an all-defensive player in his career,” Pelinka said. “He’s got great length at the point guard position. If he commits to film work and continuing the endurance training and mentality of defensive toughness, I think he’s going to be talked about as a great two-way player.”Ball sounded eager to fulfill both roles.“It’s been asked of me my whole life,” Ball said. “I’m used to it. I’m coming here with a winning attitude and hopefully I can bring that to the team.”After Ball averaged a Pac-12-best 7.6 assists per game during his freshman season at UCLA, Johnson outlined how he will do the same thing with the Lakers.“Guys want to get out on that break and run hard. They know Lonzo will find him,” Johnson said. “Not just give him a pass, but a scoring pass. Some people can pass. Very few people can give you a scoring pass. That’s the type of passer he is.”Johnson then recalled how the same thing happened to him. James Worthy, Byron Scott and Jamaal Wilkes ran the floor quickly after a rebound, knowing Johnson would hit the first open man. After reflecting on those memories, Johnson predicted plenty of lobs for forward Larry Nance Jr., open looks for forward Julius Randle and easy baskets for center Ivica Zubac. Johnson reiterated his call for all his players to remain in shape so they can keep up with Ball’s pace.“He’s a great player and plays team basketball,” Zubac said. “He can pass the ball really nice. He plays the right way. I think he can make everybody else better on the team. He can help us a lot to get this franchise back to where it was. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”Though Zubac sounded enthusiastic about Ball’s arrival, he mourned D’Angelo Russell’s departure. The Lakers traded Russell to Brooklyn in an effort to shed salary (trading Timofey Mozgov’s three-year, $48 million contract), acquire a center (Brook Lopez) and collect a draft pick (27th).“I’m sad I’m not going to play with him anymore,” said Zubac, who traded text messages with Russell. “But I hope he’s going to go into a good situation in Brooklyn to fulfill his talent.”Johnson echoed the thoughts of many in and outside of the Lakers that Russell lacked the qualities Ball already has.“I’m going to do what it takes to get the right players in here with the right mindset,” Johnson said. “D’Angelo is an excellent player. He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody that also can make the other players better and also (somebody) they want to play with.”Johnson pinned Ball as that player, remembering vividly how his own timely passes brought his team closer together with easy baskets, plenty of wins and lots of fun.