Ball or fall? Ball family attracts national news


Laker’s point guard poses with commissioner Adam Silver after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

Aidan Spizz, Staff Writer

20-year old basketball star Lonzo Ball made a name for himself when he played for the UCLA Bruins last year. Now, he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

While Lonzo remains a notable player, it’s actually his father, LaVar Ball, who has been receiving the most media attention for the past year.

In a Nov. 2016 TV interview, LaVar guaranteed that UCLA, led by Lonzo, would win the 2017 NCAA Division I tournament. He was wrong, but he succeeded in catapulting himself and his family to fame with his far-fetched claims. When asked a question about UCLA’s failure to win the championship last year as he had predicted, LaVar conveniently blamed Lonzo’s teammates rather than putting any onus on his son.

His brazen outspokenness has made him one of the most notable figures in today’s sports world.  In the past month alone, LaVar has managed to get into a Twitter battle with the President of the United States, has publicly criticized the Los Angeles Lakers for how they are coaching Lonzo (the second pick in last year’s NBA draft), and announced that his youngest son LaMelo, a top recruit, would not play college basketball at UCLA and would instead be playing overseas until he was eligible for the NBA.  LaVar Ball’s comments certainly stimulate discussion in online spheres, as he constantly calls into question issues from parenting to the structure of college and professional sports.

“The Ball family definitely adds a new personality to the world of basketball.  While LaVar is quite entertaining, he seems to be negatively affecting the careers of his sons,” said freshman Isaac Goldstein.

Many wonder whether Ball’s attention grabbing behavior has been a detriment to his sons.  So far, Lonzo has been a big disappointment in the NBA, Liangelo isn’t expected to be drafted at all, and Lamelo, who was ranked 9th in his class, won’t get a chance to prove himself in the NCAA, and will instead be playing overseas.  One can’t help but think that all of the added attention has placed unnecessary pressure on his kids, who are only 16, 19, and 20.

In addition, LaVar sparked ridicule by some and admiration by others when he established the Big Baller Brand last year. The Big Baller Brand, often called the BBB, seems like just another attempt by the Ball family to remain in the public eye.  The brand, which sells “athletic apparel inspired by the Ball Brothers,” charges more than $400 for a single pair of sneakers.

“The Big Baller Brand is overpriced, and I don’t understand why people buy their shoes,” said freshman Josh Rosen.

Lonzo’s shoe for the Big Baller Brand dropped for a whopping $495.  Most people—except for Jay Z, who bought three pairs— are unwilling or unable to spend that type of money on a pair of shoes.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the Ball family over time.  While it’s easy to think of LaVar as nothing more than a publicity seeker, perhaps his fame is due in part to the issues that he has brought to our attention. Sports have become businesses above all else, and team loyalty seems like a thing of the past, as seen by Eli Manning’s recent benching by the Giants. By that token, is there anything wrong with someone honestly saying they need to do what is best for themselves rather than what is best for the team?  Yes, the greatest athletes are typically known for being great teammates, but do we only disagree with LaVar because we are not used to this new “me first” attitude?

Whether you agree with LaVar or not, one thing is for sure:  America will be watching to see how this all turns out.