EL SEGUNDO, Calif. –- All Lonzo Ball wants for his birthday -- besides a win against the Toronto Raptors -- is for his fellow rookies to serenade him with the version of "Happy Birthday" that he prefers.
Ball requested the Stevie Wonder "Happy Birthday" song, but when the Lakers gathered their rookies to sing -- as they do whenever a player celebrates his birthday -- not all the rookies were able to deliver for their 20-year-old point guard.
"There's like the regular version, like the white version [of 'Happy Birthday']," Ball explained. "And then like the soul version, black version. Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] didn't really know it, but he made up for it with the rhythm."
"It was kind of a solo performance by Josh [Hart], and then Kuz and T.B. [Thomas Bryant], they didn't really sing but they definitely danced," Ball added. "Well, Kuz didn't know the version, apparently, and then T.B. is just a natural dancer, so he doesn’t really sing too much. Kuz has some rhythm, so it was a pretty good performance."
Ball, though, had a good birthday morning as he went through his usual shooting drills with assistant coach Miles Simon as the Lakers blared music on the practice court, including some Boyz II Men. What the rookie really wants is a win against the Raptors.
"He's like a bulldog, he's going to compete every possession," Ball said. "He's a great shooter, especially off of picks going left. So definitely got to watch out for that, and he helps his team win. So that's another good point guard I'm matched up against and I'm going to do my best against."
Ball is averaging 11.5 points, 9.0 assists and 9.0 rebounds but is shooting just 31.6 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point range. Defenses are sagging off the rookie, who likes the shots he is getting and says he remains confident taking them.
"The shots I'm shooting, like I said, I like them," Ball said. "A lot of guys are going under the screens, so a lot of my shots are open, I'm just missing them. But once I start making them, I'll get my confidence. But yeah, I'm going to keep shooting them."
Ball still has 11 games to become the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, a distinction held by LeBron James at 20 years and 20 days old.
But the only statistic that matters to Ball is the Lakers' record.
"I think it's going pretty good," he said of his first four games. "We're 2-2, I'm .500. So it's not like it's the bad start, it's a lot of things we can improve on. We're just going to try to get better every game."
Head coach Luke Walton and Ball admit that the rookies can improve on their singing, as well. Walton ranked Ball first as far as singing among the Lakers rookies.
"I guess Zo," Walton said. "I mean, he has his own music. Thomas Bryant is the best worst dancer. Kuzma has got good energy in it; he combines the singing with the dancing. And Josh Hart is like the security of the group. He stands there and is kind of quiet, and they all have their own role, if they were a boy band."
"[Hart is] like the member of Boyz II Men that just kind of talks in the background a little bit, didn't sing much."
Ball said he will celebrate his birthday on Sunday with his family when the Lakers have a day off following a back-to-back set against Toronto and Utah. He said they will probably grab pizza together.
"Not Chuck E. Cheese," Ball said when asked if he would go to the children's pizza entertainment restaurant.