Lonzo Ball has confirmed he will miss all of next season recovering from his third left knee surgery since January 2022.
Ball said that will not end his basketball career, speaking at Invest Fest in Atlanta (hat tip K.C. Johnson at NBC Sports Chicago).
"Life is not easy," Ball said. "If you want to get the most out of it, you gotta put your best foot forward. If you're going to get knocked down, you gotta get back up every time if you want to keep going. You can always quit and take the easy way out and pout and go to the side. But for me, if you're trying to get to a place where I want to get to, you just gotta get back up, dust off and keep going.
"I'm going to play again."
It's the attitude Bulls fans want Ball to have, and the only one to have if he really is going to be the first NBA player to get back on the court following cartilage replacement surgery.
Ball has been out since a January 2022 surgery that was supposed to be a clean-up arthroscopic surgery that would have Ball back before the playoffs. However, the pain never went away and he didn't return, so Ball had a second surgery last September. The pain remained as he recovered from that surgery, and he didn't play last season. That led to this March's third surgery, a cartilage replacement where doctors grow cartilage outside the body and put it in the knee. This is a
Ball has played 35 since signing with the Bulls, and he admitted recently on the Trae Young podcast it is a big "what if" for him because this team was at the top of the East and looking like a threat with Ball as the glue that held an otherwise imperfect roster together.
"It's going to be a big what if," Ball said on the podcast. "For me, I feel bad just for the GM because I feel like they made the perfect team around me. And I felt like that was the most I've ever been involved in an organization. And I finally got the perfect team to fit my game and play my way, and do what I wanted. That injury — I'm still going through it right now — that one messed me up early just because I felt like we really had a chance and never got to see what it was."
Ball is under contract for two more seasons (the second is a player option he unquestionably will pick up).