CLEVELAND -- The much-anticipated first meeting between LeBron James and Lonzo Ball finished with James registering the 59th triple-double of his career, Ball just missing the third triple-double of his rookie year and the pair slapping hands at center court following the Cleveland Cavaliers' 121-112 win on Thursday.
James, attempting to shield his words from cameras and lip readers, held his jersey over his mouth as he imparted a few postgame words to Ball, and Ball did the same, nodding along as James spoke.
What did James say?
"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.
Some have construed James' missives toward Ball as potential breadcrumbs that can be followed to James' eventual free-agent exit from Cleveland this summer to bolt for L.A., where he already owns two Brentwood homes and has begun a burgeoning entertainment career.
James says he ignores the speculation.
"I don't see the reaction because I don't get involved in it," he said. "I don't do it to get a reaction. I do it because he's said over and over since he was growing up who he modeled his game after, who was his favorite player. It was me. I was humbled by that. Me wishing him happy birthday [on Twitter] was kind of the salute back to him. I see all the stupid noise that happens. I can't buy a place in L.A. I can't live in L.A. It's funny noise. But I don't get involved in it. When I post things, I don't look at comments. I'm so far removed from the white noise, and the noise, it doesn't matter."
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 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 shared.
James said it's Ball's ability to share the ball that he likes most about his game.
"It's always team," James said of Ball. "Passes the ball. Pushes the ball up the floor. Someone that you want to play with. This is a team game. Everybody gets too caught up in this whole individual thing. The team game gets so overlooked, but then -- I'm not going to go there. He's a good player."
James, who did have a strong two-handed dunk in the second half, didn't get to fulfill the promise he made to a child during the Cavs' annual holiday visit to the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday. The child had asked James to dunk on Ball for him.
"I got you," James said in a video, which was liked nearly 4,000 times on Fox Sports Ohio's Twitter account in the first 10 hours it was posted. "He might not be in my way. Once he sees I'm about to take off, he might move out the way."
James had a laugh about the child's request Thursday.
"That was pretty cool," he said. "He told me to dunk on Zo. I seen that thing went viral too. ... If the kid got one wish, it didn't happen, but if he had one wish to get his mind off what they go through in every day paces in that hospital, I was happy to be part of that."
And he was happy, it would appear, to connect with Ball in a manner other than dunking all over him.
"I know everything that he's going through," James said. "Of course I can relate."