‘Welcome to the Ball era’: Lakers lose preseason opener, but that doesn’t matter

After a summer filled with drama, basketball served as a unifier for the Los Angeles Lakers organization.

Lonzo Ball’s preseason debut, specifically.

On Saturday night at the Honda Center, there was controlling owner Jeanie Buss, in a section across from the Lakers bench, making a rare preseason appearance, and a rare appearance at a game away from Staples Center at all.

Two sections over there was Jim Buss, who hadn’t made a public appearance with the Lakers since being fired as the team’s executive vice president, then joining his brother Johnny to try and oust their sister as the Lakers’ top executive.

Magic Johnson, whose role as president of basketball operations took over the one Jim vacated, sitting eight seats away from Jim.

Next to him there was general manager Rob Pelinka, eager to see a dress rehearsal of the team he’d helped construct.

There were 16,733 fans, including “20,000” from Chino, according to its loudest promoter, LaVar Ball, who sat a few rows back from the court and declared proudly: “Welcome to the Ball era.”

Even his ever-stoic son allowed himself to feel something when the sold-out crowd roared at his introduction.