If you haven’t been keeping up with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, you’ve most likely witnessed the major losses of both Villanova and Duke in the round of 32, Kansas shockingly falling to Oregon in the Sweet 16, and the impressive run made by seventh-seeded South Carolina who will play Gonzaga in the Final Four on April 1st. If you haven’t been keeping up with all this madness, you’re probably about as un-American as President Trump who didn’t fill out a presidential bracket this year, breaking away from tradition.
However, there’s one team that’s been getting a lot of attention even before the tournament started. The UCLA Bruins not only had an impressive run in the tournament, losing to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, but worked out a 31-5 season, finishing third in the Pac-12 conference. Lonzo Ball, who has just declared for the NBA Draft this June, has put together a very notable stat line for a freshman, averaging 14.6 PPG, 7.6 APG, and a 67.3% FT percentage. Besides an unremarkable performance against Kentucky for his last game, NBA teams have been keeping a watchful eye on him throughout his college career.
Unfortunately, it’s not Lonzo that has been getting the attention from the media that he deserves. It’s his father, LaVar.
If you search up his name on Google, a lot of news stories will come up about his controversial statements to reporters and in the media. However, my favorite is what comes up for his Wikipedia page: “a whole lotta nothin'”. He began his rampant journey through media coverage by exclaiming in March that his son was better than both Steph Curry and LeBron James, two of the most dominant players in professional basketball today. On March 14th, he said, “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.”
Quite a lot of talk coming from someone who, back in their “heyday”, averaged 2.2 PPG at Washington State. What was Jordan doing back during his “heyday”? Averaging 37.1 PPG, earning MVP awards, working his way towards becoming the greatest basketball player of all time… the rest is pretty much history.
It’s almost cringe-worthy to watch LaVar Ball deliver these outlandish comments and wonder where all this confidence comes from. Apparently, according to a SportsCenter Featured piece on the Ball family, it runs in the family.
All of this criticism towards the family seems similar to those shows, like “Dance Moms”, where the parents will push their kids into the spotlight and subsequently gain attention to themselves. It stops and makes you think, “What if I was raised like that?”
Besides dancing though, there are some parents, like LaVar Ball, that are a bit too vocal when it comes to their children and the sports they play. Maybe it’s time to step out of the spotlight and let your kids take it from there. Your “heyday” is over, and now some professional players are beginning to take note of what LaVar is saying, especially NBA All-Star John Wall who says that him and other players will punish Lonzo for his “daddy’s remarks” come time for him to play in the NBA. Better watch out.
At the end of the day though, Lonzo is well aware of what his father has been saying. All he’s focused on is what he does on the court. It’s a smart move, but after a while, he’ll definitely have to take his dad off his high horse. Don’t know how difficult that’ll be, but it’ll surely be another media debacle and debate waiting to happen.