UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball has taken Westwood by storm.
The Chino Hills product is leading the country in assists per game (7.7). His ability to make teammates better is truly special. Simply put, he is the integral reason for the Bruins’ resurgence into the national spotlight this season.
While Ball’s brilliance is the main narrative surrounding UCLA’s season, his father LaVar may be the most polarizing individual involved in college basketball.
Many will call the elder Ball a genius. Others may look at him as a helicopter parent to the highest degree. Some will call him delusional.
The genius part enters the equation when you think about his children. Lonzo is currently starring at UCLA. It’s widely expected that he will be a top five pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
His middle child — LiAngelo — is headed to UCLA next year. The youngest — high school sophomore LaMelo — also is slated to play his college ball in Westwood. For those keeping track at home, all three of his sons garnered college scholarships to one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country.
If only LaVar Ball had confidence pic.twitter.com/Ihr1TmQZmS
— Kyle Boone (@kylebooneCBS) November 25, 2016
LaVar first made headlines back in November — when he went on television to proclaim that UCLA would win this year’s National Championship. Many pundits scoffed at the idea…until the Bruins registered a 29-4 regular season record. UCLA also leads the country in points per game. This prophetic foresight is certainly something few saw coming.
The Bruins had 80-to-1 odds to win the title prior to the season starting. UCLA now is sitting at 12-to-1.
As the season progressed, Ball’s presence with his BBB (Big Baller Brand) clothing company grew. He — and others around him — after often seen at Pauley Pavilion rocking the gear. In fact, LaVar is hoping to create a package deal with BBB and one of the major sports conglomerates (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour) for a shoe deal (as he told USA TODAY):
“A billion dollars, it has to be there. 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.”
LaVar when went on TMZ, and had some controversial praise for his son when compared to two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry:
LaVar then proceeded to bash Lonzo’s teammates — proclaiming that the NBA would be easier than the college level for his son:
A rivalry then ensued between LaVar and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Barkley questioned Ball’s methods of hyping up his son (per the Los Angeles Times):
“He’s gonna be better than Steph Curry? That’s what he said. Steph Curry has won a couple MVPs. He’s pretty good. Man, let me tell you something. That’s that AAU … . You can’t say a guy is going to be better than Steph Curry, a guy who has played 30 college games. I know you can be proud of your son, but at some point, it becomes stupidity.”
LaVar followed with this retort on The Herd with Colin Cowherd:
LaVar Ball responds to Charles Barkley’s criticism: “If Charles thought like me, maybe he’d win a Championship.” pic.twitter.com/XWc9Y5n0Xg
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) March 7, 2017
We really shouldn’t be surprised with anything LaVar says at this point. To put the icing on the proverbial cake, the boisterous figure then offered his opinion on Michael Jordan. The quote speaks for itself (per USA TODAY):
“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one. I would just back (Jordan) in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left. He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim.”
Whether this statement was hyperbolic or not, we should point out that 6’6″, 270-pound LaVar played one season at Washington State — averaging 2.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG.
The legend of LaVar Ball seemingly grows day by day. As his sons’ careers continue to progress, one can be sure the proud father will not be short on words.
Source: Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports