If you’ve ever played organized sports at any level, from 5-year-old recreational soccer, to high school sports, to even the pros, you’ve seen a mom or dad who takes the game a bit too seriously.
Oftentimes these parents can be tough to watch — getting too worked up about a call, being too hard on their child after the game and just overall being a little bit too involved. We now have one of those parents consuming the news and it’s not good for him, his children or the game of basketball.
Lavar Ball is the father of projected top three NBA draft pick Lonzo Ball who, after leading UCLA to the sweet sixteen, has declared for the 2017 NBA draft. Lonzo’s brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, are still in high school but have verbally committed to play basketball at UCLA.
Lavar Ball has been outspoken in the media, even going on the popular sports debate show in “First Take” to not only speak for his children (and boast for them) but more so to talk up his own hypothetical athletic feats, one of which was that he could have beaten Michael Jordan in a game of 1-on-1 basketball when Jordan was in his prime.
We’ve seen all seen a father (OK, it’s not always a father but it usually is — testosterone working its wonders) take the fun out of the game for his child. And the crazy thing is that Lonzo’s play, for the most part, has backed up his dad’s talk.
Ball was arguably the best all-around player in college basketball this season (14.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 7.6 apg). There aren’t many children-of-psycho-dads whom you can say that about. And he seems like a humble guy, never saying outlandish things to the media or bragging about his abilities. He seems to want to play his game. So maybe his dad’s talk doesn’t affect him.
But even if it doesn’t bother him, it will surely bother his NBA teammates who are forced to answer questions from the media about a rookie’s obnoxious father. Players are treated a certain way in a high school locker room if their dad won’t shut his mouth — imagine what it’s like for grown NBA players, who then have to answer questions about it in press conferences.
In fact, after Lavar came out and said that it must be hard for LeBron James’ son to grow up with expectations to be like his father, LeBron responded by saying, “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.” Certainly not a friendly conversation by any means.
People are taking Lavar Ball’s comments with a grain of salt and that’s not a bad thing. But there’s a short shelf life on his act and that shelf life can’t possibly carry on for many more years.
His next oldest son, LiAngelo, is a senior in high school and next year he will be playing for UCLA as a first-year, just like Lonzo was this year, which ultimately means more Lavar Ball in the spotlight. His youngest son in LaMelo is currently a sophomore at Chino Hills high school and is also committed to UCLA. The best question is not whether basketball fans can take another decade or more of Lavar Ball. It’s whether his sons, their teammates and their coaches can.