Is LaVar Ball Too Outspoken?

AFRO Sports Desk Faceoff

by: Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley AFRO Sports Desk
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UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball is arguably college basketball’s best player. But his father, LaVar Ball, says there is no argument.

FILE - In this March 4, 2017, file photo, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, right, shakes hands with his father LaVar following an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State in Los Angeles. UCLA won 77-68. LaVar Ball says his home was broken into while he was attending a high school game involving two of Lonzo Ball’s brothers. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE – In this March 4, 2017, file photo, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, right, shakes hands with his father LaVar following an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State in Los Angeles. UCLA won 77-68. LaVar Ball says his home was broken into while he was attending a high school game involving two of Lonzo Ball’s brothers. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

In fact, Ball has been quite bullish on the future NBA prospects of all three of his talented sons. Lonzo, the oldest, will challenge for the top overall selection in this June’s NBA draft. His middle son, LiAngelo, is a high school senior forward slated to join UCLA next season. The youngest, LaMelo, might have the most potential of all three brothers; he’s a gifted sophomore point guard who will also join UCLA in 2019. Last year, Lonzo was a senior on the Ball’s high school team, Chino Hills, who delivered a 35-0 season and put the Ball family into the media spotlight.

Amid March Madness and the expectations for Lonzo, LaVar has been making headline news on his own. LaVar has been extremely outspoken on social media, claiming he could have beaten Michael Jordan in his prime, and that his oldest son is better than Steph Curry. The strong statements have earned criticism in NBA circles. The AFRO asks: is LaVar Ball too outspoken?

Green: LaVar Ball is doing what he feels he needs to do for his children: promote them and put them on a pedestal. Sure, his claims and outspoken words can come across as annoying and over-the-top but he’s not harming his children by applying pressure. In fact, the Ball children are thriving under the microscope. There have been several gloating fathers in sports history—LaVar Ball just happens to be the latest. As long as it’s not affecting his sons on the court, then I’m all for it. 

Riley: LaVar Ball has drawn so much attention with his actions that it came as no surprise to learn that the Ball house was burglarized last week during a Chino Hills playoff game. Not all attention is going to be positive. The fact that folks out there paid close enough attention to know where the Balls live, and their schedule, should be a tip for the oldest Ball to cool it down. The Balls were going to be in the spotlight whether LaVar Ball said one word or not, but his brashness hasn’t helped the situation at all. He could be doing damage by simply trying to hype his sons up.

Green: It isn’t uncommon for celebrities to be victims of theft and the burglary incident may have happened even without LaVar Ball in the picture. His sons are immensely talented—it isn’t as if their father’s decision to voice his opinion makes them any better than what they already are. They’re naturally going to get media coverage simply because of their background. They’re each talented and they’re related, any sports outlet would run that story into the ground. Does it add some spice that LaVar is involved? Yes. But he’s not making or breaking this situation.

Riley: The press would have come regardless, I agree. But the only attention that the older Ball has stirred up with his efforts has been negative. He’s been criticized by several sports networks and organizations, and that is definitely going to have an impact as his sons advance into the collegiate and professional ranks. Whoever drafts Lonzo will now be drafting his overzealous father, too. How will team brass factor that in? How will that work with fans? The pressure is already on the Ball children to succeed. The only thing their father is doing is creating an impossible mountain that they’ll never be able to climb.

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