LaMelo Ball is turning the Hornets into must-see TV by playing his brand of basketball

Confucius lied when he said, “Choose a job that you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” It was a lie 2,500 years ago when he said it, and it’s a lie now. Choose a job you love and your work will bleed into your personal life. Sometimes to the point where you’ll struggle differentiating the two.

The truth is, if you choose a job you love, you’ll end up working harder than you ever have worked before. To love your job, oftentimes, is to be consumed by it. And this has proven to be true with most people I know who love what they do, including myself.

LaMelo Ball is really good at his job — good enough to have us watching Charlotte Hornets basketball. He’s been central to turning a joke of a franchise not only into a winning one, but into must-see TV.

The Hornets are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference after winning five of their last six games. During this stretch, Ball averaged 20 ppg and shot 54% from deep and 51% from the field. He’s running away with Rookie of the Year, leading all rookies in total points, rebounds and assists.

LaMelo Ball brings the ball up court against the Sacramento Kings.
LaMelo Ball has made the Hornets must-see TV as he runs away with the Rookie of the Year race. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

But what’s most special about him is his approach. He loves playing basketball. I believe it would be hard to find anyone in any industry who loves their job more than he loves what he does. It’s an unmistakable, palpable love. But it’s not consuming. He plays basketball like it’s the most important thing in the world to him while simultaneously being the funnest thing in the world. And that’s a difficult balance.

“He’s only 19.”

This has been said a lot since LaMelo Ball has been in the NBA. And I get it, he has his own particular brand of basketball and it’s steeped in self-assuredness. I’ve never seen someone his age more relaxed on the basketball court. Regardless of the circumstances, who he’s playing or who is standing in front of him, his demeanor is the same. He carries himself with the confidence of someone who was destined to be in his position, as if he knew he was going to be in the NBA his entire life. And we praise him for it, but that wasn’t always the case.

In 2017, reputable sports media outlets were debating if he was the most-hated high school basketball player ever. What’s really sick is it was a justifiable question. The entire family was surrounded in turmoil. He was despised and booed everywhere he went. People minimized his successes and reveled in his defeat. There are few athletes in any sport on any level who have been surrounded by more vitriol than he was at only 15 years old.

It’s truly amazing that he didn’t crumble under that type of pressure. That’s a result of how he views the game. He loves basketball, but it’s just a game. And it always has been.

The most-hated high school basketball player ever is now an NBA fan favorite. What’s he doing differently? Not much. He’s still playing the same brand of basketball, he’s just better at it now. What’s really exciting is this is only the beginning.

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