Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers general manager said the following of Lonzo Ball when they picked him as the number 2 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.
“There’s something very, very special about his basketball abilities. If you use a sports analogy….you look at passers like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who just have an ability to do something that is so special with where they put the ball. The vision and abilities that Lonzo has just puts him in the class of being a transcendent talent.”
Many concur with Pelinka as they describe Ball to be an unconventional player with enviable physical attributes that combine exceedingly well with great court vision and passing instincts.
Paired with a great coach and supportive teammates there was great hope that this kid who stands 6’6″ tall and had a 6’9″ wingspan would work on his shooting form, ball handling and defense skills and propel the Lakers to greater heights.
To be impressed by Ball is also to be equally worried. Worried about a specific member of his team who was not physically drafted alongside him but certainly comes as a package deal. That individual would be his father. LaVar Ball.
When it comes to LaVar Ball you either love him or you hate him. You may love him for the 247 passion, focus and interest he has in the careers of his children. You may hate him for his apparent constant need for the spotlight and distraction that has now earned him a few titles.
One is as the NBA’s premier “carnival barker.” The most recent one comes from Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. On Monday night, Kerr said he thinks that LaVar Ball has zero credibility. He labeled him “the Kardashian of the NBA.”
This new title comes after comments made by LaVar Ball from Lithuania on Sunday. LaVar is in Lithuania with his two younger sons, LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball. Lonzo’s brothers are preparing to make their pro debuts with Vytautas Prienai, a professional basketball club based in Prienai. That move in typical LaVar fashion was also not without controversy.
LaVar Ball is quoted as telling ESPN that head coach Luke Walton “doesn’t have control of the team” and “nobody wants to play for him.” This coming after the Lakers have experience nine straight loses.
Lonzo, forever caught in the middle, downplayed his father’s comments. “He’s a grown man,” Lonzo said. “He’s going to say what he wants. I can’t do [anything] about it.”
Fellow NBA coaches came to Walton’s defense. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle blasted ESPN’s decision to publish Ball’s comments. He called Walton “a terrific young coach.” Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told Yahoo Sports he was “totally impressed” by Walton. He views LaVar’s criticism as “unfortunate in a lot of different ways.”
Any hesitance a team showed about signing Lonzo was all due to his father’s antics. LaVar is titled as the nightmare NBA GM’s feared but the necessary evil they were willing to tolerate for the sake of building their teams. Given his latest remarks though have the Lakers paid too high a price?
Shannon Sharpe, former tight end for the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens and current co-host of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, a sports talk shows calls LaVar “a liar.” Sharpe recalls when LaVar was on the show and said, “My son goes to the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m done with it. My job is done…” Implying, he would take a step back and let Magic Johnson and his team’s management grow his son’s talent. That did not happen.
Sharpe has always been willing to give LaVar a fair shake. He supported his run at entrepreneurship even though he felt that the almost $500 price tag for the ZO2 shoes was not price point sensitive. He has admired his seemingly different yet clearly loving approach to raising his family. He has also expressed concern that LaVars’ passionate demonstration of a parental support may be a distraction to his sons.
LaVar Ball and Donald Trump Have Something In Common
LaVar Ball is like President Donald Trump in one clear aspect. Consistency. Who Trump said he was before the election is who he has remained after the elections. The same applies to Ball. Anyone who has followed Lonzo’s career knows that LaVar is not one to shy away from stirring the proverbial hornets’ nest or from a camera for that matter.
LaVar’s comments on Skip and Shannon: Undisputed were clearly wishful thinking. Either he can’t stop or he won’t stop being who he clearly is.
Has LaVar Ball gone to far this time? As you ponder your response, keep the wise words of Shannon Sharpe in mind. “You can’t talk your son into being a better player.”