It needs to be pointed out, that the Lavar Ball phenomenon in the American sports culture is essentially less than one year old. It just feels like he’s been around forever.
Even though Lonzo Ball was starting to do eye catching things at this time a year ago under Steve Alford at UCLA, only the most leatherbound hoop heads knew much about the kid from Chino Hills.
Fast forward to now, and Big Daddy Ball has become well known enough as a pop culture character, that mainstream shows like SNL can spoof him and not worry about 80% of the audience whispering “who?”
Lavar Ball has done a masterful job of gaming the current media system for maximum exposure despite minimum actual accomplishment. Sure his son may have gone #2 overall to the Lakers, but he didn’t play in a Final Four. He wasn’t named NCAA Player of the Year. And he sure isn’t lighting the NBA on fire as a rookie.
Along the way to creating a self-sustaining hypestorm of mostly nonsense (“My kid’s better than Steph Curry! I could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one!”), some commentators felt the need to defend Lavar Ball, as a father. Phrases like… “Even if you don’t like his bravado, here’s a father who’s done a great job raising his kids.”
Oh yeah, has he?
In the case of Lonzo, it looks like he didn’t even teach him how to shoot a fundamentally proper jump shot.
In the case of LiAngelo, yanking him from UCLA in a snit has essentially snuffed any longshot chances he had of being a pro.
And in the case of LaMelo, well…. there’s a lot more time to do the wrong thing by him too. He’s already withdrawn young Melo from high school, where he will homeschool the lad and “train” him for what he thinks will be a successful “one-and-done” college career.
But even that’s now in jeopardy thanks to a planned shoe for little LaMelo already.
Good luck with that.
The bar for calling a guy a “good father” I guess is just being around and keeping the bills paid at home. While it used to be said that his kids “never get in trouble” that now no longer applies, after the great Shanghai Sunglasses Heist.
Even if you only judge “LaVar Ball, The Father” by how is he serving as caretaker for his kids’ basketball careers, it’s a pretty bad report card. And now he’s starting to do more harm than good. While you can say he hyped his 1st kid into the 2nd overall pick, I’m not sure Lonzo would have fallen out of the Top-5 no matter if dad’s tongue had been kidnapped by ISIS this past spring.
Now he continues to heap pressure and attention on Lonzo, just when he needs it least. Worse yet, the Lakers are now having to craft LaVar Ball-specific guidelines regarding media access to family members who attend the games.
The kid’s shooting 31%.
In the case of LiAngelo, you could see this coming from the moment they safely got out of China. LaVar does not do “humble.” And so to watch his son sit out an indefinite suspension at UCLA had to be daily torture for the mouthy dad.
But that was still LiAngelo’s best spot to stay, if he truly wanted to someday make the NBA. Play at least 3 years there under Alford. Develop at least one enviable pro-level skill. Turn your “locked up abroad” embarrassment into a feel-good life lesson of growth and maturity.
Nah. That’s for suckers. Papa Ball said in a huff: “He’s out of there.”
Of course when LaVar spouted off about getting a head start on Gelo’s NBA draft prospects this spring, those who know were quick to point out Big Baller is completely delusional.
NBA savant Adrian Wojnarowski put it flatly: he’s not even on any scouts EXTENDED list of prospects! Ouch.
So again, I ask: “Is anybody willing to stand up and call LaVar Ball a good father?”
Have we forgotten that there are numerous athletic families that produce more than one pro player in their sport within a few years span? And do you know anything about THOSE dads? The Mannings. The Watt Brothers. The Gasol Boys. Tiki and Ronde. The Matthews Clan. Pedro and Ramon. And the list goes on.
At this rate, LaVar Ball will become yesterday’s fad, almost as quickly as he arrived. And if you still want to call him a “good father” who has done well “raising his boys” then go right ahead. I’d say your bar is a little bit low.