Johnson appeared on ESPN's First Take on Friday and defended the pick when Stephen A. Smith called him out:
The Lakers hired Johnson to run their basketball operations in February 2017. His first major move was to select Ball, who was coming off a consensus All-American season at UCLA, in the 2017 NBA draft.
Never one to err on the side of caution, Johnson told reporters he expected the Lakers to one day retire Ball's jersey before he ever played in an NBA game.
Things didn't work out for Johnson or Ball in Los Angeles. Johnson infamously resigned as president before last season's final game in an impromptu press conference.
Ball has battled injuries over the past two seasons, playing in just 99 games. He averaged 10.0 points, 6.4 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game and shot 38.0 percent from the field for the Lakers.
Los Angeles moved on from Ball over the summer, trading him to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the package to land Anthony Davis.