Audio discovered of the Thursday night postgame conversation between LeBron James and Lonzo Ball reveals the Cleveland Cavaliers star told the Los Angeles Lakers rookie to find his "zone" and "stay locked in" but to keep his words private and out of the media, saying it was "white noise to you."
A user on Reddit.com first posted a transcript of the conversation heard through a foreign language feed of the Cavaliers' 121-112 win, the first meeting between James and Ball. ESPN confirmed the content of the conversation.
"Find your zone and just stay f-----g locked in," James said after pulling his jersey over his lips on the court. "The media is going to ask you what I told you right now. Tell them nothing. Just be aggressive every single day. It's white noise to you. That's all it is. All right? Let's go."
James and Ball's brief chat became fodder for national headlines after they declined to discuss what was said. James attempted to shield his words from cameras and lip readers, and Ball did the same, nodding along as James spoke.
"None of y'all business," James told reporters after posting 25 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds to tie Larry Bird for sixth place on the all-time triple-doubles list.
Ball followed suit, coyly replying that James "didn't tell me anything." But Ball was more than willing to describe what James did on the court during the game.
"Watching him doesn't do him justice," Ball said after his 13-point, 11-assist, 8-rebound night. "It's very hard to stop him with that size, that speed. That's why I say he's the best player in the world right now, and it's hard to deal with."
James said he first became aware of Ball's admiration for him after the No. 2 pick shared during the NBA's rookie transition program in New York over the summer that James was his favorite player growing up. He has gone out of his way since to compliment Ball, despite the fact that he took issue with his father, LaVar Ball, last season.
The Cavs will travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers in March, and the hype machine will be in full force again over All-Star weekend in February, when L.A. hosts the event and James and Ball will surely be involved in the activities.
In a way, the 20-year-old Ball had been waiting for Thursday all his life.
"I knew I was going to play him, I knew he was going to be on the schedule and I was looking forward to it for a long time," Ball said.
Ball was asked if he had already started working on making sure that he doesn't have to play against James in the future by pitching him on joining the Lakers in July.
"Nah, I didn't say nothing," Ball said.
Information from ESPN's Dave McMenamin was used in this report.