- Mark J. Terrill/AP
It’s not unusual for parents to be vocally supportive of their children, but LaVar Ball may be taking it to a new level.
The outspoken father of UCLA standout freshman Lonzo Ball has begun to make headlines for several outlandish claims.
And while Lonzo is considered one of the top NBA prospects and a likely top-three draft pick come June, some of LaVar’s comments seem to be seeping into the discussions about Lonzo, and his younger and similarly talented brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo (both committed to UCLA).
LaVar’s comments have been harmless enough, but they have grabbed headlines. He claimed Lonzo was better than Stephen Curry. He claimed he could have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one. He’s openly spoken about negotiating a $1 billion shoe deal for his sons.
And some of his comments have not always been met with great praise.
When asked about LaVar’s comments, Curry said, while shaking his head, “I don’t want to talk about that. I wish his kids the best and I know they’ll be great NBA players. That’s their job. That’s it. … Every person should parent their kid as they feel they should.”
After LaVar claimed he could have beaten Jordan, many were quick to point out that LaVar averaged two points per game in college at Washington State. His own college coach, Kelvin Sampson, spoke highly of LaVar but said (via Bleacher Report), “He said what?… That’s not worth reacting to.”
Charles Barkley, who was critical of some of LaVar’s comments, challenged him to a one-on-one game. LaVar shot back that if Barkley had LaVar’s mindset, he could have won an NBA championship. While Barkley may not always have the support of NBA players, firing back at one of the league’s most prominent voices is not always the smartest move.
On Thursday, when asked about some of LaVar’s comments, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he didn’t think it was helping Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo (via ESPN):
“The fact that everybody keeps talking about him, he seems to be accomplishing whatever he’s trying to accomplish, because the things he says are so outlandish. But he keeps getting headlines, and I guess that’s what he wants.
“I don’t think it’s helping his kids. I think it’d be better for them if they can just play and have fun and not have to hear that every day, but whatever. It’s all part of him.”
Thus far, despite some of the outlandish comments, it doesn’t seem to be affecting Lonzo’s draft status. USA Today’s Sam Amick dug into the situation and asked NBA executives if they’d be wary of drafting Lonzo because of LaVar’s outsized personality. The answer was no.
“No one’s paying attention to Ball’s father,” one GM told Amick.
Another executive said, “There are players who come from more challenging family situations who have (done) quite well in the NBA.”
Of course, LaVar seems perfectly aware of his antics. He told USA Today:
“People say to my boys, ‘Hey man, you know your daddy’s crazy?’ And you know what they’re saying, ‘Tell us something we don’t know. He’s been crazy all our life. When we came out he was crazy.’ So whatever is on the outside, talking about us, it doesn’t matter. It does not matter.”
Still, that LaVar has become a topic of discussion may not bode well for Lonzo. NBA teams have to believe that LaVar will be part of Lonzo’s career and may be just as vocal about the goings-on of whatever team drafts Lonzo. Teams regularly scout friends and family of prospects to make sure they’re surrounded by good people. While there aren’t character issues for LaVar or Lonzo, teams will surely still look into the situation.
For now, it doesn’t seem like a major factor. But for it to be talking point at this stage could turn it into more of a factor as the draft approaches.