LaVar Ball won.
The Lakers landed the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, seemingly ideally positioning them to pick Lonzo Ball. Lakers president Magic Johnson said LaVar wouldn’t affect how the the Lakers view Lonzo, and they’re reportedly enamored with him. It’s coming together exactly as LaVar willed and Lonzo wanted.
But as LaVar strutted in victory, he dug himself the biggest hole his publicity hunt has landed him in.
First, some background: Kristine Leahy of Fox Sports alleged in March that LaVar “forced” his sons to play basketball and said Lonzo “looks like he’s terrified to go against anything his father says.”
Appearing with Colin Cowherd and Leahy today, LaVar had a few testy exchanges with Leahy about his shoe brand:
- Ball: “I’ve sold a good amount, to me. Like I said, there’s different amounts.”
- Leahy: “How many?”
- Ball: “Stay in your lane. Anyway, on The Herd, like I was telling you.
- Leahy: “I’m just curious.”
- Ball: “I don’t even worry about her over there.”
- Leahy: “Why not? That’s kind of disrespectful.”
- Ball: “She scares me to death. She said she scares Lonzo – Lonzo’s scared of me. She scares me. That’s why I don’t even look that way. I don’t look over there, because she scares me. I’m thinking of ‘Saw’ right now. Leave me alone. I’ll tell you – four-, five-hundred pair.”
- Cowherd: “She’s a reporter. Her job is to probe.”
- Ball: “She can report to whoever she want behind her. I’m talking to you, Colin.”
- Leahy: “What is your problem with me?”
- Ball: “My problem is, you are a hater. ‘I would never wear a Big Baller shirt.’ Well, good. Don’t even talk to Big Baller. I heard you say it. I’m not even worried about it.
- Leahy: “I didn’t say that. I said that I wouldn’t wear something, as a woman —”
- Ball: “That says Big Baller. It’s the same thing. With all due respect, you’re a great reporter – just not reporting on me.”
- Leahy: “I have a right to say what shirt I would and wouldn’t wear.”
- Ball: “Uh-oh, welcome to Big Baller zone.”
- Cowherd: “She said ‘baller’ was offensive.
- Ball: “To her, it is.”
- Leahy: “No, no, no. I didn’t say it was offensive. I didn’t say it was offensive. I just said that if you wanted to work with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, to maybe have something that appeals to women.”
- Cowherd: “I thought that was a legitimate — I mean, I don’t have to agree, but I thought that was a pretty good point.”
- Ball: “I don’t agree with her. It’s a good point because y’all friends. I’m not friends with her. I don’t even see her.
- Leahy: “I wasn’t even saying it as I would never wear this. I’m saying –”
- Ball: “What’s this show about again? Ain’t we talking about shoes? I don’t want to talk about that. Next.”
- Leahy: “Well, I think that in order to have a successful company, you’re going to have to have women who like your brand.”
- Ball: “Uh, yeah, if you have a women’s company. But anyways.”
- Leahy: “Oh, so you’re not marketing to women?”
- Ball: “We’re talking about Big Baller Brand.”
- Ball: “I’m not even worried about you right now. Keep in your lane.”
- Leahy: “Can you look me in the eye?”
- Ball: “I don’t want to look you in the eye. You scare me to death.”
- Leahy: “Oh, thank you.”
- Ball: “You’re scaring me right now. I don’t want to look that way.”
- Leahy: “They wouldn’t want to work with you anyway, because you don’t respect women. So.”
- Cowherd: “She’s after you today.”
- “Ball: “Oh, I don’t respect women? But I’m the one that’s married. I’m good,” Ball said. “She can say what she want. She’s trying to — I never disrespect women.
- Leahy: “You did on the show today.
- Ball: “But I tell you what, if you act like that, guess what? Something’s coming to you. And it’s OK.”
- Leahy: “Wait, are you threatening me?.
- Ball: “See how she’s trying to turn the words? I would never threaten you.”
- Leahy: “You said something’s coming to me.”
- Ball: “I don’t know what it is. I’m not a psychic.”
Ball is clearly shooting back at Leahy for how she psychoanalyzed his family from afar. One problem: She did it several weeks ago, and not everyone realizes the context of Ball’s comments. So, he’s left sounding misogynistic (and maybe being misogynistic, but absolutely sounding misogynistic).
Ball’s brand is brashness, but does he want that brand to include misogyny? Big Baller Brand’s website has a section of women’s shirts, for what it’s worth.
Ball also snapped at Jason Whitlock, another critic, but one who wasn’t there: “I don’t think he can comment on anything but snacks.”
These comments also have an outside chance of harming Lonzo’s draft stock. Though most NBA executives agreed LaVar won’t affect Lonzo in the draft, professional sports leagues are becoming increasingly conscious of their image on treatment of women. LaVar’s previous public comments have mostly been hyperbolic, but harmless. His digs into Leahy struck a nerve with many.
LaVar – maybe due to justifiable retribution, maybe not; maybe out of misogyny, maybe not; maybe just out of general rudeness, maybe not – created an image problem for himself today. He ought to hope it won’t extend to Lonzo.