A rough weekend for the Balls, father and son. First, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball saw his Bruins eliminated in the Sweet 16, in a game in which Ball (10 points, eight assists, three rebounds) was soundly outplayed by Kentucky counterpart De’Aaron Fox (39-4-3). Ball then announced his plan to declare for the NBA Draft, where he’s expected to be a top-3 pick.
Then, on Sunday, video emerged of LaVar Ball hooping it up in a Chino Hills, Calif., rec league. Would the video back up the elder Ball’s boasts of his basketball prowess? It would not.
Ball is wearing No. 8 in red in the video above, and features plenty of cherry-picking, lackadaisical D, getting stuffed under the rim, and my personal favorite, at 1:13, when he ruins a 3-on-1 by trying to pass to himself off the backboard.
The video is undated, but Ball is 48 years old now, so any game is gravy. But this is still a satisfying lowlight reel of a guy who claimed he could’ve beaten Michael Jordan 1-on-1 in his prime (yet who only averaged two points a game at Washington State).
Opinions are split on LaVar Ball, indefatigable hype man for his sons and his brand. ESPN’s Dari Nowkhah represents many in the media who would prefer to keep Ball off TV and just let him shout ineffectively into the void:
On the other hand, Ball’s appearances and wild proclamations get a ton of attention—so someone out there wants to hear from him.
Me, personally? I dig what LaVar Ball’s doing. I like when he says a bunch of crazy shit, because it’s amusing, and I like when people get mad at him, because that’s amusing too. Sports could use more WWE-style managers, working the mic and riling people up and giving us all things to talk about. This is entertainment, damn it! And Ball’s mouth has real consequences. He’s done a hell of his job making his son a household name (with two more sons coming up; we’ve got at least five more years of this), and he’s also set Lonzo up to be an unwittingly polarizing figure. Are people going to root for him to fail? Are LeBron and other NBAers going to target him for his father’s trash talk? These are all storylines, and storylines are what make the NBA go. The basketball world is more interesting for having LaVar Ball in it, and I hope he never shuts up.