Ever since his boys were lighting up the nets at Chino Hills High School, LaVar Ball has been the loudest person in the gym. You can ask anyone that’s ever attended a Chino Hills basketball game, including myself, and they will all confirm this.
With his oldest son Lonzo entering the national spotlight this season, LaVar has made a conscious effort to boost his own celebrity with his ludicrous comments in the last few months. He’s garnered significant attention with these outrageous claims and, although he’s received mostly negative criticism, it’s actually boosted the popularity of his three sons and their “Big Baller Brand” as a result.
Because he doesn’t seem likely to stop anytime soon, it begs the question of how far he’ll go before he finally does some serious damage to his sons’ careers.
Here’s a quick summary of LaVar’s statements during Lonzo’s freshman season at UCLA:
He said Lonzo was already better than the two-time reining MVP Stephen Curry. He said Lonzo will only play for the Lakers when he reaches the NBA. He said he’d kill Michael Jordan in a one-on-one game, despite averaging 2.2 points in college. He said all three of his sons will be one-and-done players, even though LiAngelo, the middle child, is a three-star recruit and LaMelo, the youngest, is a four-star. He said his sons should receive a billion dollar endorsement as a package deal from Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour. He said that Lonzo is Magic Johnson with a jump shot. And, he said that he thinks Lonzo can pass MJ as the greatest player ever.
This was all before he recently called out LeBron James’ sons on Tuesday, claiming it will be hard for them to achieve success because of the pressure they’ll face to be as good as their dad.
“The monsters in the NBA, their dads wasn’t that good,” said LaVar. “They were OK, they was players, but the fact that the old (Dell) Curry wasn’t no all-star, he wasn’t cold. He could shoot the ball, though. Kobe Bryant, his dad wasn’t all that, that’s why he’s such a monster. You got LeBron, it’s going to be hard for his kids because they are going to look at them like, ‘You got to be just like your dad.’”
It should also be pointed out that he subtly compared himself to two former NBA players. But, poor grammar and faulty logic aside, Ball’s comments irked LeBron to the point where he lashed back at LaVar in the defense of his two sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce Maximus.
“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth. Keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad, it’s a problem now. He can talk about his brand, talk about his sons, talk about basketball, talk about me. But keep my family out of this.”
Quotes like this from the eldest Ball are just another example of how he’s constantly putting his reputation on the line in order to stimulate his family’s brand. As Lonzo’s college career likely comes to an end within the next two weeks, NBA teams will need to consider whether they believe LaVar will become too much of a distraction for the organization to take on. Off talent alone, Lonzo will still be taken near the top of the draft, but there’s no doubt that some teams might hesitate at the idea of bringing his father along with him.
When will he start questioning the coach for not playing Lonzo enough? When will he claim that the system they’re running is holding Lonzo back? How early in Lonzo’s career will he demand that the team give him a max contract? And when will he require that the team also add both of Lonzo’s younger brothers to the roster?
Given what’s transpired thus far, these scenarios seem more like harsh realities than conceivable hypotheticals. In order to attain their highest level of success, the Ball brothers need their father to stop running his mouth. It’s unfortunate for them that this will probably never happen.