The Curious Case of Lonzo and Lavar Ball

by Kyle Flynn

Lonzo Ball is a star freshman basketball player at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is averaging 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. Lonzo has two younger brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, who are both in high school and have already committed to UCLA themselves, as part of a package deal made by his father. 

Lonzo Ball is slated to be picked in the top three of the 2017 NBA Draft, and his father has been vocal about his sons and their perspective futures. Lavar Ball, 48, of Chino Hills, Calif. has been at the head of the news cycle in the world of sports lately, due to some comments he has made.

Ball has been interviewed by major news outlets and has said his oldest son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, and that he should be selected first in the draft.

 Former NFL Star Ray Lewis said “I would have cried if my dad showed up to even one of my games.”

 Ball has made statements regarding his sons that are almost unachievable, similar to asking for a billion dollar shoe contract and saying his son will only play for the Lakers, which he later rephrased.

At what point does it become too much? His son has no choice but to play for the team that drafts him, and is fortunate enough to have this opportunity. 

Lavar has also brought his own career into this, a career in which he averaged 2.2 points per game at Washington State. He has taken shots at hall-of-famer Charles Barkley, and at the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, by saying he could be them both in a one on one basketball game.

So far, Lonzo Ball is living up to his father’s expectations as he carried his UCLA team to the NCAA Tournaments Sweet Sixteen, before losing to the Kentucky Wildcats. Lonzo, who is being considered one of the best draft prospects in the past decade, was asked about his father and his expectations, and ended up giving an answer that surprised many.

“My dad’s a funny guy. People were coming up to me and saying, ‘Are you embarrassed? Your dad said you’re going to win the championship.’ No, I’m not embarrassed. I know how he’s going to act. I just go out there and play. Let him be him. He’s been this way my whole life,” said Ball to The New York Daily News. The New York Daily also reported NBA executives will not be scared away by the potential distraction that Lonzo’s father could be if a team drafts him.

Lavar Ball was also recently quoted as saying that his own kids are set up for a better chance at success than LeBron James kids, because “the expectations aren’t as high, he can’t spend the same amount of time with his kids that I can because he has his own career to worry about.”

James, who was a basketball prodigy in his own rights and one of the most influential people on earth, responded swiftly, “Keep my kid’s names out of your mouth. Keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.” 

Scott Van Pelt on his late-night edition of SportsCenter, has a segment known as “One Big Thing” that carried over from his radio show. He uses this segment to talk on a particular issue, last week he weighed in on Lavar Ball and his comments of LeBron James’ kids.

“This all started with him loving his sons, but this isn’t about loving his sons, it’s about loving the spotlight that he never had. This is where you tell me it’s working because people keep putting microphones in his face. Sure, he’s getting attention, but are you rushing to the internet to buy his $57 T-Shirts? I bet you aren’t. Do you know anyone who is? So fine he can continue to cultivate this persona, this stage dad gone wild, he can continue saying nonsensible things about some of the greatest players to ever play, or their kids. From this point forward we will continue to pay attention to the young man in the jersey, and not the dad who can’t stop talking; because it’s not interesting, it’s insufferable,” Van Pelt said on his show.

Lonzo has since declared for the 2017 NBA Draft after playing just his freshman season at UCLA. He is projected to go top three overall in the first round in the last edition of the mock drat, by almost every draft insider.