LaVine, Donovan empathize with Lonzo Ball's injury


On Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls officially shut down Lonzo Ball for the rest of the 2022-23 season, due to the ongoing discomfort he's experienced in his left knee. 

The following day, Zach LaVine and Billy Donovan shared their empathy about the obstacles Ball's faced over the past year. 

"I feel bad for him because nobody’s taking it more hard than him," LaVine said on Wednesday. "This is his career. This is him that’s having to deal with this injury and having people put out reports and talk about him when he really hasn’t said a lot, that’s hard to deal with. I always think about the person first more than that.'

"I think a lot of times it's easy to look at it through the lens of, 'Gosh, I wish he was out here playing for us,'" Donovan said. "But to me, I take a totally different perspective of just what he has had to go through. That's the thing that really bothers me. That he's 25 years old at this point and time of his career, and the game really for over a year has been taken away.

"He's always tried to handle himself well. He's always tried to be upbeat. He's always tried to be like he's moving and progressing in the right way."

MORE: Bulls officially shut Ball down for 2022-23 season


Ball suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee in January of 2022. He received surgery, yet he missed the rest of the season.

During the following offseason, he admitted some frightening details about the ongoing pain he experienced in his knee. Ball said he couldn't run, jump or play basketball. At one point, he said he struggled with walking upstairs. 

So, he underwent a second surgery – the third of his career on that knee. This time, it was an arthroscopic debridement meant to clear debris and treat a nerve in his knee. The surgery was deemed successful. 

He was originally given a six-to-eight-week timeline, but he never fulfilled it. During the season, he posted videos of him dunking, running on a treadmill and doing single-leg hops over hurdles. 

But, he was unable to progress for the full return. 

"The decisions I think were made with Arturas [Karnisovas] and Marc [Eversley] and his representation and talking to Lonzo," Donovan said. "But I just feel bad for him. Clearly, people saw the (35) games that he played, he was a huge addition for our team. He made a really, really positive contribution in a lot of different ways, both offensively and defensively."

Upon signing Ball to a four-year, $80 million deal during the summer of 2021, he had an immediate impact on the floor to start the season. With his lightning-fast hands, unparalleled instinct and intuition on the floor, Ball molded the Bulls together on both ends. 

He averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game before his injury during the 2021-22 season. He was arguably the team's best 3-point shooter, making 42.3 percent of his 7.4 attempts per game from beyond the arc. 

Unfortunately, he's had to watch the back half of last season, and the entirety of this season, from the sidelines. 

"I feel for him more of what's been taken away from him and how hard he's tried to work to get himself back healthy," Donovan said.

"He’s such a hard worker I talked to him all the time," LaVine said. "He’ll be back. It’s unfortunate he had to go through this. Injuries are obviously a part of basketball but this just sucks, because that’s my guy."

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