Lonzo Ball is leading UCLA in the NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, his dad, LaVar Ball, keeps saying ridiculous things. The latest: Lonzo Ball is better than LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said LaVar Ball is making it harder on his kids, but Golden State has no chance of drafting LaVar Ball, who could go No. 1. So, Kerr’s personal opinion holds limited relevance.
What’s the league-wide consensus on the Balls?
For all the recent focus on LaVar and his one-man media tour – the endless string of interviews full of cocky claims and premature promises, coupled with insults at everyone from Stephen Curry to Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan – the consensus among front office executives who discussed the matter with USA TODAY Sports this week was that his draft stock won’t be harmed by his father’s controversial style. As one general manager put it, and many other executives confirmed in various forms when consulted on the matter, “No one’s paying attention to Ball’s father.”
Among the dozen executives who were contacted, only two expressed any belief that LaVar’s ways could negatively impact Lonzo’s draft standing. As one of them noted, the LaVar factor could come into play if a team is torn between him and another prospect when the draft buzzer is about to ring.
“That could be the thing that tilts the balance,” he said.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
While not speaking about the Ball family specifically, the Celtics appear to be open to the idea of selecting him.
“I would never hold a player’s family against a player if I like a player,” Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show. “I don’t see too much distractions with parents that are in the media. Usually the players are pretty good and the teams are pretty good.”
You think LaVar Ball would be the first parent of an NBA player who presents difficulties? Hardly. Teams deal with this sometimes.
LaVar Ball is different, because his influence is being heard so publicly. But teams are equipped to handle minor family difficulties, and it seems that’s what this is. LaVar Ball is clearly going out of his way to generate publicity with outrageous claims. That doesn’t mean he’s such a wildcard behind the scenes.
I really liked this quote, via Amick:
“People say to my boys, ‘Hey man, you know your daddy’s crazy?’” LaVar said. “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.”
I believe Lonzo Ball can play productively amid his father’s self-generated controversies. The best evidence: Ball is playing productively right now amid his father’s self-generated controversies.
The NBA is a different animal, and pro teams should investigate Lonzo Ball just as they would any top prospect, including researching how those close to him affect him.
I would be a little concerned about LaVar Ball.
I’d be far more concerned about passing on a superior player.