LaVar Ball, Outspoken Father of UCLA Star Lonzo Ball, Isn’t Hurting his Son with Audacious Remarks
If you haven’t heard of UCLA basketball superstar Lonzo Ball, you may have heard of his father, LaVar Ball. No, LaVar didn’t play in the NBA. He didn’t even play much in college. But he has one son that’s a projected top three pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and two high school standouts behind him. He also loves to let you, and the rest of the world, know that his kids are the next big thing in the world of sports.
For example, LaVar recently announced that he wants a $1 billion shoe deal from Adidas, Nike, or Under Armour and that he’s ready to make it a package deal for his three kids—but it has to be a billion.
“A billion dollars, it has to be there,” said poppa Ball. “That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.”
LaMelo Ball, a sophomore in high school committed to UCLA, and LiAngelo Ball, a senior in high school who has signed with UCLA aren’t exactly eligible for a big shoe deal yet, but oldest brother Lonzo will be as soon as he’s drafted. But will he get it? Or will his father’s constant talking hurt his chances?
To give you an idea of the craziness that has come out of LaVar’s mouth recently, dad said that Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry, that in his prime he could have taken Michael Jordan one-on-one, and that LeBron James’s sons won’t make it to the NBA. He also had a brief feud with Charles Barkley—but who doesn’t these days?
“Once I found out he averaged two points a game [in college], listen, you need to slow your roll,” Barkley said of Ball, accusing him of stealing the spotlight away from his superstar son. “He says I didn’t win a championship. I said to myself, ‘I need to go back and Google this guy because maybe I missed the Ball era when he was dominating and winning championships everywhere else.’ Listen, I’m too old and fat to play basketball, but I’ll challenge Mr. Ball to a one-on-one. How about that? I don’t even know how old he is—he’s got to be around my age—but no guy who averaged two points a game can beat me at one-on-one. I’m positive of that.”
The way Chuck sees it, LaVar didn’t get the spotlight in college (because guys that average two points don’t get interviewed), and now he’s trying to sponge off of his son’s newfound popularity and stardom. Ball, smartly, ignored the challenge to play one-on-one with the Hall of Famer, instead of taking the high road and calling Charles fat.
“He wants to play one-and-one and all this, and he says I averaged two points, who cares?” asked LaVar, rhetorically. “I know he don’t want to play one-on-one because he’s too big. He better stay behind that TNT thing and eat them doughnuts.”
No matter how ridiculous his dad’s comments, however, Lonzo just brushes them off. He’s used to it.
“He’s been like that my whole life,” said Lonzo on his dad’s controversial comments. “It’s nothing new to me. He’s got a camera in front of his face now, so y’all are seeing it for the first time…He’s never going to change for the cameras. He’s been the same his whole life.”
Lonzo’s coach, Steve Alford, doesn’t seem overly concerned either.
“It’s been no distraction to us, and a lot of that has to do with Lonzo, who he is—a strong-willed kid,” said the UCLA Bruins coach. “He’s a special talent both mentally and physically, and it’s how he’s wired. He’s been built this way. He’s been built for this.”
Additionally, NBA executives don’t seem to care. One general manager said bluntly that “no one’s paying attention to Ball’s father,” and Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge said he would “never hold a player’s family against a player if I like a player.” Since the C’s are virtually guaranteed a top three pick this season (thanks to the Brooklyn Nets), that’s quite the statement.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t like all the talking coming from LaVar, but that may be because he called Lonzo a better player than Steph. Kerr thinks LaVar needs to let Lonzo blaze his own trail, but he did acknowledge that he’s getting the headlines he wants for himself and his son.
And, when all is said and done, Lonzo Ball has done it himself. Basketball fans heard about the Bruins superstar long before they heard his dad’s first ridiculous comment. Now, even non-basketball fans will recognize the name Lonzo Ball thanks to his dad.