I’m sure LaVar Ball loves his kids and just wants them to succeed, but the man needs to shut his mouth. The former Washington State and Cal State Los Angeles hooper needs to stop living through his sons and just let them play. LaVar, of course, is the father of UCLA freshman standout Lonzo Ball, as well as high school phenoms LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball. He also serves as their hype man and will talk to anyone who calls him.
This week alone, LaVar told TMZ that his son LaMelo — a sophomore at Chino Hills High School — will “easily” score 92 points in a game again, and claimed Lonzo will be better than Stephen Curry. In November he also guaranteed Lonzo’s UCLA squad would win the national title this year. Seriously LaVar, shut up for a minute. Every time he pops up and makes some bold declaration, he takes the focus away from his sons and puts it squarely on himself.
The patriarch of the Ball family owns Big Ballers Training, a personal training business in Chino Hills, California. He’s a former NFL player who had stints with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers and is enormous, at 6’6″ and more than 300 pounds. He has micromanaged every aspect of his sons’ basketball careers, to the point that he doesn’t allow them to have any days off. The following quote from an interview with Max Preps is indicative of his attitude:
“I tell my boys all the time, someone has to be better than Jordan. Why not you? You got everything. Everything. We give them everything because of the work they put in. They don’t take off holidays. No Christmas. Nothing.”
At what point does being intensely supportive bleed over into being a desperate slave driver? Yes, the Ball brothers have been wildly successful and they are all impressively talented kids. But something about this whole situation makes it feel like it’s all about LaVar, not his kids.
LaVar is all about self-promotion, he’s putting himself out there with outrageous statements while also working his kids extremely hard. This whole situation has a Marv Marinovich feel to it. LaVar makes Shabazz Muhammad’s dad look sane by comparison.
I just worry that Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo will find themselves completely burned out, not just on basketball, but life as well. They will never live up to the hype being pitched by their father. Lonzo is great but Stephen Curry is a generational player who is fundamentally changing basketball. LaMelo’s 92-point effort was only impressive if you ignore that he barely crossed halfcourt to play defense. Neither of them is Michael Jordan. This seems to all be about promotion and not substance. It’s a house of cards the elder Ball has created and I worry about the impact when it comes crashing down.
LaVar has three phenomenally talented sons who will undoubtedly be really fun to watch for years to come. Like the rest of us, he should just sit down, shut up and enjoy watching them play.