When Lonzo Ball signed with the Chicago Bulls in free agency in 2021, it was a chance at a fresh start for the young star guard. He was going to a Bulls squad that was trying to make the leap into the East playoff picture, having already traded for Nikola Vucevic, signed DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso, and already had Zach LaVine in town. That quintet was supposed to be the core group that would make them a contender in the East, and in their first year they quickly established a rhythm, jumping out to the best record in the East as the calendar turned to 2022.
However, from there things unraveled, starting with Ball suffering a torn meniscus in January 2022 that has seen several setbacks, requiring multiple surgeries and the expectation that he will miss his second consecutive full season. There are no guarantees Ball can ever come back and play again, and the Bulls will always wonder what could’ve been had he stayed healthy. Since he went down, the Bulls have struggled to find consistency as a team, missing that point guard presence Ball brought on both ends of the floor.
On the latest episode of the From The Point Podcast with Trae Young, Ball opened up a bit about the injury (in the cold open and more fully at the 26:00 mark of the above vide), particularly how he felt bad for the Bulls organization because they’d invested so much in him and built a team he felt was “perfect” for his game to play how he wanted.
It’s going to be a big ‘What If?’ For me I feel bad just for the GMs, just cause I feel like they made the perfect team around me. That was the most I’ve ever been involved in an organization and I finally got the perfect team that I felt like to fit my game and play my way and just do what I wanted to do. That injury, I’m still going through it right now, but that one messed me up early because I feel like we really had a chance and we never got to see what it was.
You can hear the frustration and disappointment in Ball’s voice as he answers the question, noting that after years of trying to fit into situations that weren’t ideal around him, he was finally presented with an opportunity to play for a team built with him in mind. That early success only makes the “What If?” game worse, and seeing the Bulls fall apart since and never make the playoffs the last two years only adds to Ball’s feeling that his injury derailed the organization’s pathway. Of course, it’s not Ball’s fault, but human nature is hard to shake and you can tell he still feels in some way responsible. Hopefully he can make a return to the court in 2024 and start making up for some lost time in Chicago.