On the morning of his long-awaited return to the court after six week on the sidelines with a knee sprain, Los Angeles Lakers rookie and former UCLA Bruin Lonzo Ball expected to make headlines, but these weren’t the headlines most expected on this day.
"I do," Ball said when asked if he believed college players should be paid. "All the money they generate for the programs and stuff, it’s kind of an unfair system."
Ball added, "Everybody knows everybody’s getting paid, and that’s how it is. Everybody’s getting paid anyway. You might as well make it legal, so that’s how I feel."
Ball spoke about March Madness and how the money involved in college basketball didn’t equate to the benefits players received but he denied receiving any money at UCLA and credited his father from keeping him away from agents.
Fellow Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, though, was one of the players named in the Yahoo Sports bombshell report, but Kuzma did not meet with reporters on Friday morning to address the $9,500 he allegedly received from agents while at the University of Utah.
Instead, Ball fielded a question for his forward.
"(Kuzma)’s in the NBA now," Ball said when asked how his teammate was handling being named in the report. "He really don’t [sic] care, so whatever happened was in the past. Now, he’s living life."
The idea that college athletes that generate immense revenues for schools should be paid is far from an isolated opinion in NBA locker rooms.
"Yes," Lakers coach Luke Walton provided a one word answer when asked if college athletes should be paid.
Walton, who played at the University of Arizona from 1999-2003, expanded, "They bring in a lot of money for universities. I was fortunate enough that I had my family help pay throughout college, but a lot of them, they’re living on those scholarship checks, check to check, as far as paying rent, eating and to me, when there’s that much money involved, players should be getting a bigger piece of that as far as being able to live in a nice place, go to a nice restaurant instead of just fast food type of places."
Walton added, "Obviously, that’s a long story that you’d have to find a way to make it work, but at some level, I think, yes, they should be getting paid more."