How the Lakers finally put an end to the circus show of the Ball family and focus on their goal, to win championships.
On June 22, 2017 the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball, a playmaking point guard from UCLA, #2 overall, since that time the organization, and the wide world of sports, have had to listen to Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball. While there have been parents in the past who have been vocal in the media, few have brought as much polarity and criticism to the media.
LaVar was vocal while his eldest son was at UCLA, he was already in the media, painting Lonzo as the next savior of the NBA, the second coming of LeBron, etc. He also challenged two NBA Hall of Famers to one-on-one games, saying he could be Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. He told Nike that if they wanted to sign Lonzo, they would have to sign his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, to a combined billion dollar shoe deal. That’ billion with a “b”.
When the Lakers secured the #2 pick in the draft, LaVar was back at it again, promising the Lakers that if they drafted his son he would lead them to championships, the promised land and all manner of other wonderful places. The Lakers decided to take a gamble and draft Ball, and to an extent his dad, which became the biggest headline of the draft. The Ball family overtook the draft to the extent that fellow UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf, after being drafted 18th overall by the Indiana Pacers, was asked not about his feelings of accomplishing his dream of being drafted, but was asked how he thought Lonzo would fare with the Lakers. Now, halfway through the NBA season and Lonzo’s rookie year, not only has he not lived up to the mountainous hype that his father heaved upon him, but he’s not even the best rookie on the Lakers second round pick Kyle Kuzma is deserving of that title.
Lonzo in his rookie year is averaging 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists halfway through the season, respectable numbers that aren’t good enough for his dad. LaVar has made headlines criticizing the Lakers organization and head coach Luke Walton. The Lakers have already asked LaVar once to stop going to the media but he won’t, or can’t, stop.
While in Lithuania in early January with LiAngelo and LaMelo, LaVar made headlines again, claiming that the Lakers’ players don’t want to play for head coach Luke Walton. This came in an exclusive interview with ESPN where Ball said that Walton was too young to coach the Lakers and couldn’t connect with the players anymore.
Now the Lakers are faced with the problem of how to deal with LaVar before he causes real damage. The Lakers need to remind LaVar who is in charge, not only of this team but also his son. He is a loving father who cares about his son’s well-being, I can’t fault him for that, but he is still a parent and has no real position within the organization to make changes. However, if he is left alone LaVar could truly cause a rift within the organization that could damage any hope of this team building for the future.
If I were the General Manager of the Lakers, I would tell LaVar that if he does not stay out of the headlines and stop criticizing the players and head coach Lonzo will be on the trading block. LaVar loves that Lonzo is playing for the Lakers, if he were traded to a struggling team elsewhere such as the Orlando Magic or Memphis Grizzlies LaVar may not be able to stay in the tabloids for much longer. LaVar is causing damage to the Lakers and, to an extent, his son. The Lakers need to give LaVar and ultimatum, and follow up on the ultimatum, for the greater good of their organization.