LaVar Ball: A nonsensical show

His recent comments against Los Angeles Lakers head coach, Luke Walton, as well as his effort to steal the spotlight every time he speaks to the media show that LaVar Ball’s sole target is to transform basketball into a reality show.

LaVar Ball became known at the end of the 2016/17 season, when he did everything he could to convince the basketball world that his son, Lonzo Ball, was the next big thing of the NBA.

Although what he was saying didn’t make sense, since he was presenting his son as a player that could take the Lakers to the next level, he convinced the legendary Magic Johnson (the team’s President of Basketball Operations) to give Lonzo a chance and, consequently, the 20-year-old former UCLA player was picked by the Lakers in the second place of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Fast forward to today, yes Lonzo Ball has shown he has the talent and potential to become a great player, yet he needs to work very hard and improve many aspects of his game in order to reach the top of the league.

For his part, LaVar Ball doesn’t want to focus on helping his son enhance his performance.

Instead, he made the decision to criticise Walton, stating, during an interview with the ESPN, that the young coach has lost control of the situation and the players don’t want to play for him anymore.

Certainly, his provocative words led Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks head coach and president of the NBA’s Coaches Association, to publicly confront both Ball and the ESPN.

Concurrently, the legendary Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs head coach) and Stan Van Gundy (Detroit Pistons head coach) also expressed their support to Walton and criticised Ball’s comments and the network’s coverage of the story.

This situation created a debate on whether Ball’s comments and actions are newsworthy or not, with journalists and coaches expressing different opinions and ending up in a disagreement for the way this whole story has been covered in the last eight or nine months.

To make matters worse, LaVar Ball convinced his younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, to join Lithuanian side Vytautas, on a short-term contract, however he transformed their arrival to the country into a show, with a plethora of fans and journalists being at the airport to welcome the Ball family.

Both LaMelo and LiAngelo certainly are mediocre, both defensively and offensively, which is normal given their age (16 and 19, respectively), so their presence in Vytautas will only harm their potential, as it’s unlikely they will work hard to improve their performance.

LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball were introduced in a press conference that included LiAngelo being asked by a female “reporter” if he like her? Photo: MINDAUGAS KULBIS / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

During their professional debut on Saturday, they both played badly on both ends of the floor and didn’t score a single point (in five and nine minutes of action, respectively).

Afterwards, though, their father blamed the team’s rotation for the loss, insisting things would be much better, if his sons had more playing time.

Yet, both LaMelo and LiAngelo proved they can’t currently play at the top level, while I am not sure they will be able to do that in the near future.

And that’s the most annoying thing about LaVar Ball, namely that he steals the spotlight by making nonsensical comments and blaming everybody else for his sons’ mediocre performances, forgetting that his sons need to make many changes to their playing style, if they want to play well and be consistent.

And what also doesn’t make sense to me is the fact that the media care too much about what LaVar Ball says, covering the stories in such a way that enable them to create “clickbait” articles and increase readership.

However, this situation prevents basketball fans from focusing solely on everything that happens on the floor, whereas they care more about anything that includes LaVar Ball.

Even though the fans have the opportunity to skip an article on a website or a news story on TV, this doesn’t mean the stories about LaVar Ball’s actions should become exaggerated, just because they increase the number of views.

But, it would be better if the media paid attention to the way LiAngelo, LaMelo and Lonzo Ball play every time they are on the floor, instead of giving their father, LaVar, a platform to say whatever he wants to say.

US basketball players LiAngelo Ball (L) and Lamelo Ball takes part in their first training session in Prienai, Lithuania, where they will play for the Vytautas club on January 5, 2018.
Basketball-crazed Lithuania welcomed LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, the two youngest sons of flamboyant Los Angeles entrepreneur LaVar Ball who recently made headlines due to a feud with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images

Overall, yes I think LaVar Ball has no problem to continue doing what he does, as it helps him fulfil his personal and professional agenda.

However, it’s up to the media to acquire a different way of covering the news stories regarding the Ball family, in order to give the fans the necessary information about what they should really care: basketball.

Otherwise, if the journalists keep giving LaVar Ball the platform to say anything he wants to say, whether true or provocative, the latter will undoubtedly become what Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, said a few days ago, namely the “Kardashian of the NBA”.