LaVar Ball constantly finds himself in the news, but is it for the right or wrong reasons? Ball’s son Lonzo has the potential to be the first overall pick of the upcoming NBA Draft after he averaged 14.6 points and 7.6 assists during this past men’s college basketball season for the UCLA Bruins. However teams could shy away from drafting the young Ball due to his outspoken father.
The elder Ball has claimed that he could have beaten Basketball Hall of Famers Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley in a one-on-one basketball game when he was younger. Ball said this in spite of the fact that he was only able to average 2.2 points per game during his time collegiately with the Washington State Cougars. Ball also claims that his son Lonzo is already better than Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry who is a two-time NBA MVP, a one-time NBA Champion, and one of the best three-point shooters in league history. Ball has also gone on to claim that his sons don’t have the same pressure on them on the basketball court as those of Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James. James responded by letting Ball know to keep his family out of his mouth.
The outspoken Ball was seeking a $1 billion deal from a sneaker company for his Baller Brand, with shoe deals for Lonzo and his younger sons LiAngelo and LaMelo who are both still in high school. But when Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas all said no to the Ball Family, papa LaVar decided to create his own shoe.
Recently Baller Brand introduced the ZO2 which are retailing at $495. The design of the sneaker, along with the price have raised some eyebrows as the asking price of the sneakers is more than double what the price for James’ and Jordan’s sneakers each are. Ball wants to make his brand exclusive, but what if his son is unable to live up to the self-indulged hype?
Ball is one of the best players in this year’s draft, but his father has already put him under the microscope. Ball had a target on his back last season at UCLA as people were gunning for him. And when the Bruins were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet 16, Ball was limited to just 10 points and 8 assists, while Kentucky freshman guard De’Aaron Fox took him to school to the tune of 39 points as he made it look very easy. But what Ball got from Fox that night could only be the tip of the iceberg for him.
With Ball’s NBA career set to begin in a few months, point guards around the league are going to be gunning for him due to his outspoken father. Throughout Curry’s career he has been a cerebral assassin as he lets his play do the talking. But that is not the case for Curry’s teammate with the Warriors in power forward Draymond Green who is very outspoken and won’t shy away from talking smack to Ball.
The NBA is littered with quality point guards such as Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving as the young Ball will be given a lesson on a nightly basis.
LaVar Ball wanted to make a name for himself and his family, but he has prostituted himself in the process as we unfortunately live in a society that rewards ignorance if it is masked as creativity. Ball is attempting to do something different, but he is trying to step on a ton of toes in the process. Ball is attempting to change the NBA by seeking more money for his son than the standard rookie deal which has been agreed upon by the players and owners in the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Ball is also attempting to change the apparel game, but none of the big sneaker companies were willing to meet his demands as it’s tough to gauge how the career of his son is going to pan out. Lonzo Ball has solid passing skills, but how is his awkward shooting motion going to cut it in the NBA?
When Jordan made his NBA debut in 1984, the league and the apparel business were totally different. But Jordan’s ability on the basketball court, along with his partnership with Nike helped to make each of them global icons. When James came into the NBA straight out of high school in 2003, he was a phenom’s phenom as he was a man among boys in high school which included having his high-school games regularly televised on national TV. And when James turned pro, it was a no-brainer for Nike to offer him nearly $100 million as the rest is history.
Ball isn’t a phenom which means that he wouldn’t even get the standard sneaker deal for a young player. And as LaVar Ball is attempting to change the game, those who are already there have the potential to stack the deck against to the point that things could not only blow up in his face, but to anyone else who would of attempting to challenge the authority of the shoe giants and the NBA alike would be discouraged.
In this world the best way to get ahead is to be different. However the elder Ball would have been better served simply staying back in the cut and letting his son live his life as it appears that he is trying to live vicariously through him.
For Curry and his younger brother Seth who is a point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, they have a father of played in the NBA. Dell Curry was one of the better long range shooters of his era, and instead of him attempting to be outspoken about his boys, he only worked with them to make them better than he was. The same can be said about Joe “Jellybean” Bryant whose son Kobe went on to have one the best NBA careers of all-time and countless other dads who have seen their son follow in their footsteps to the league.
Ball opened his mouth about James and his sons. But even though that James’ sons LeBron James Jr., and Bryce are having success at their respective age levels in youth basketball, they don’t need to play the sport to be successful. According to Forbes.com, James’ net worth last year reached $275 million which can traced to the fact that he has always surrounded himself with smart business people. And because of that James now has the ability to teach his sons how to purchase an NBA franchise as opposed to needing to play for one, whereas the Ball Family needs the blood, sweat, and tears of the sport in order to be successful.
So as teams are evaluating the young Ball ahead of the NBA Draft, they must also assess whether or not having to deal with the elder Ball will be worth the risk. Ball has publicly criticized coaches of his sons in the past, and that won’t fly in the NBA if he is attempting to criticize his son’s head coach or front office personnel. It is either going to be feast or famine for the Ball Family in the NBA, and only time will tell what the outcome will be.