By: Bobby Tuzzio
While the storyline for the UCLA Bruins basketball team the last month has been that they are among the favorites to win the NCAA National Championship, they have also found themselves in the headlines of another story, which has to do with their star player’s… dad. That’s right, LaVar Ball, the father of freshman sensation Lonzo Ball, has caused quite a deal of controversy across the sports world over the last few weeks. While Lonzo’s playing ability has shown that he is going to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft this year, LaVar Ball has shown that he could say things about his sons on national television that are both cringe-worthy and laughable. Before I start getting into discussing the claims that LaVar Ball has made this year (so far), I should probably note that I have nothing against Lonzo Ball. In fact, I think that he is a tremendous player and teammate and that down the road he will end up being a star player in the NBA. As for the other two brothers, LiAngelo, a senior in high school, and LaMelo, a sophomore in high school, both of whom will be attending UCLA, it’s way too early to determine what their futures hold. With that out of the way, let’s go back to LaVar.
First, he said that Lonzo will be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Alright, that one isn’t too crazy. Lonzo has been one of the top players in the nation this year so it actually would not be surprising if he was chosen first overall. However, he later went on to say that Lonzo is a far superior player than freshman superstar guard Markelle Fultz of the University of Washington. Well, they’re both great players but they haven’t gotten much of a chance to show their skills on the big stage, so that one is still going to be debated for a while.
LaVar also claims that Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry RIGHT NOW. That’s a pretty bold assertion. Lonzo has only played one college season and Stephen Curry is arguably one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. I’m gonna say that you’re wrong on that one, LaVar. Moving on.
He also said that he is going to demand a $1 billion shoe deal for all three of his sons. If the big shoe companies such as Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas don’t meet those demands, then the three brothers will sign with Big Baller Brand, which LaVar created. A billion dollars is a lot of money for three players who haven’t proven their full potential yet. It seems far-fetched to demand a billion dollar deal at this point but hey, in the words of Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network,” “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what is cool? A billion dollars.” By the way, quick plug: if you want to drop $50-60 on a t-shirt, then you could buy yourself one on the Big Baller Brand website. Seriously, why are those shirts so expensive?
Another claim that Ball made was that in his heyday, he would “kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” Yes, the 5x MVP, 6x NBA Champion, and 14x All-Star Michael Jordan. Seems crazy, right? Little did I know, however, that LaVar Ball played college basketball back in the day for Washington State University, where he averaged a staggering 2.2 points per game. That’s not too shabby. But is it enough to stop Jordan, who at the same time was averaging 35 points per game in the NBA? And from a defensive standpoint, it may be tough for Jordan to guard Ball. I mean, Jordan was only the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988, which was right around the same time Ball was in college. Honestly, this matchup could have gone either way. Well played, LaVar.
In closing, I think that 75% of these claims are ludicrous but the only reason he says them is to get publicity for his sons and his brand, in case you didn’t already figure that out. I would hope that he doesn’t actually think he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one; because if he does, then he really is just crazy. Though he is causing quite a deal of controversy, he may just be a marketing genius. It seems like everytime I turn on ESPN they’re talking about him and his sons. Even SportsCenter had a feature on the Ball brothers. He’s got current and former NBA players, the media, and coaches talking about the ridiculous things he says. The fact that I spent 800+ words talking about him is ridiculous in itself. He’s building a brand out of his son’s basketball abilities and using the media as a way of generating publicity. With the closing rounds of the NCAA tournament and the NBA Draft coming up, it will be interesting to hear what LaVar Ball says next.