LaVar Ball, right now, is probably most associated with overheated popup retail openings and the bizarre basketball odyssey of his two younger sons. He’s a reality TV star and a famous Famous Person, and part of his job as a person who is famous for being famous is to say outlandish things in order to draw attention, in order to put his brand in front of the strange and deeply impressionable percentage of people who will automatically gravitate towards Famous People, and tend to do so with outstretched fists full of money.
But LaVar Ball is also the father of Lonzo Ball, the rookie franchise point guard of the Los Angeles Lakers, so when he says Lakers head coach Luke Walton “has no control of the team” and that no current Lakers players want to play for him anymore, you have to decide for yourself whether he’s saying that as a professional buffoon who has hired himself to say controversial things, or as a person with special insight into the inner culture of the Lakers. For that matter, that’s a determination the Lakers will also have to make, inevitably. Here’s some of what LaVar had to say about Luke Walton and the Lakers, via an ESPN report from sunny Lithuania:
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball said from a spa resort in Birstonas, where he is staying while his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, get ready to make their professional debuts with Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
“That’s a good team,” he added of the Lakers, who have lost nine straight games. “Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. ... He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”
“Even if you bring in a LeBron or a [Paul] George, he can’t coach them guys,” he said. “What is he gonna tell them? He’s too young. He has no control.”
Luke Walton is, in fact, pretty young, and the young Lakers do, in fact, stink. If only there were an older man, with a tighter relationship with the team’s most important young player, and with some very specific ideas of exactly how the Lakers should be using that young player, who didn’t have anything better going on—who, in fact, was bumbling around a dismal eastern European outpost, flailing away at a Facebook reality television show, dragging his children through a miserable and pointless and totally improvised detour through the outermost bands of the basketball universe—who could step in and take over as head coach of this young and talented Lakers team.
I suppose the question is, would any one Lakers player want to play for such a man?