Trash-talking has always been a vital aspect of every sport, especially basketball. It’s not uncommon to see opposing players at the same caliber skill-wise exchanging a few words to try and get in their head. There's nothing wrong with that, as it spices things up and we see who has the better mental game.
However, notice how I said “same caliber.” Now, when someone who averaged 2.2 PPG (points-per-game) during college and never played in a single NBA game makes a bold claim that they could kill Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, that’s when we draw the line between sheer confidence and ridiculousness. I could say the same thing, and no one would blink an eye. Yet, American businessman and media personality LaVar Ball has been in the public eye for months now and will likely continue to remain in the spotlight for many more years.
I want to make it clear that I am not criticizing LaVar as a father. Clearly, him and his wife Tina Ball have done something right as their three sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo have all achieved tremendous success within the sport of the basketball. Lonzo, after a stellar freshman campaign playing for the UCLA Bruins, is currently a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. LiAngelo is also a UCLA commit, starting his freshman year playing for the Bruins (albeit this could change as he has recently got into some trouble). LaMelo, the youngest Ball brother, is a 16-year-old UCLA committ whose viral half-court shot and 92 point performance in a high school game has garnered him national prominence. All three brothers played for Chino Hills High School, where they were part of the squad that won the 2015 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Open Division High School Championship. So yeah, one could say they’re pretty good.
However, then comes LaVar Ball the part-time entertainer (and joker for that matter) which makes it harder for us to be on his side. His outrageous statement of beating Michael Jordan is unfortunately just one of many others that he’s made. What’s his craziest assertion that he’s said so far?
Well, take your pick from the following: (1) his oldest son Lonzo is better than 2 time MVP and 4 time NBA All-Star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, (2) a basketball team can’t win with three white guys after UCLA’s loss in the Sweet Sixteen, (3) all three of his kids will end up on the Los Angeles Lakers. Keep in mind that there are plenty more.
Why is Mr. Ball making all of these statements? The answer to that question is seemingly obvious: attention. For all we know, it doesn’t matter to him every time you check Bleacher Report and become shocked/angered/annoyed upon seeing another outlandish statement made by him. As long as the name is recognized, the brand (particularly his own, Big Baller Brand) will continue to rise along with profits. However, this also comes with the price of making his kids some of the most targeted players in the realms of basketball (and well making them out to be the most hated basketball players in the country).
After Lonzo’s disappointing debut in the NBA Summer-League where he made just 2-of-15 shots in a packed arena, many Twitter users were quick to call him a “bust” and believed that the Lakers season had already been over. Nonetheless, the Lakers are off to a decent start in the season with five wins and five losses, and Ball has since turned it around currently averaging 8.8 PPG and 6.4 rebounds. However, for many that still isn’t enough. Despite being the youngest Ball brother, LaMelo is just as prone to widespread ridicule as the internet demolished him after a video of him struggling with his shooting in a 52 point blowout seemingly went just as viral as his 92 point performance. Yikes. Ultimately, as the hype around the brothers continues to double, the expectations and pressure of their success will triple, thanks to LaVar.
Regardless of our judgements and perceptions, LaVar has been busy as ever; launching a new reality TV show via Facebook titled “Ball in the Family” which details the daily activities of his family. He has also released Lonzo’s and LaMelo’s exclusive signature shoes, the ZO2 and MB1 respectively. However, creating a signature shoe for LaMelo has been viewed as controversial as at the time of its release, LaMelo was still in high school and the NCAA has certain regulations regarding student-athletes profiting from commercial products bearing their name (currently, LaMelo is homeschooled). The thought of losing your NCAA eligibility and potentially being unable to play for a D1 powerhouse can be terrifying for many. However, LaVar’s reaction to the situation? “If he can’t play, he can’t play. It doesn’t mean he’ll stop working out and getting better.”
Considering many other decisions made by LaVar, I guess he knows what he’s up to.
Akash Bakshi is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you like the Ball family? Let Akash know by tweeting him @akashmbakshi.