It’s safe to say that no parent in the history of professional sports has ever introduced himself to the world in the way LaVar Ball has.
In a matter of a few months, LaVar Ball has gone from being known by nobody to being one of the most talked about figures in all of America. He has his own reality TV show, does interviews frequently on ESPN, has appeared on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, has started a business, and even has had a public feud with President Donald Trump.
This is all coming from the father of a player that was recently picked second overall in the NBA draft. And that pick wasn’t made by just any franchise. It was made by one of the most storied franchises in professional sports. It doesn’t seem possible that a father of a player like this could be talked about more than the actual player himself, but that is exactly what has happened. Turn on ESPN and you’ll see them talking about LaVar Ball. Read the newspaper and you’ll see them talking about LaVar Ball. Listen to the radio and you’ll hear them talking about LaVar Ball. Overhear your kids’ conversations, and you’ll hear them talking about LaVar Ball. The man is literally everywhere.
LaVar Ball has won 2017. In the year of trolling, he is the King of the Trolls and I love it. pic.twitter.com/i7dK14ScAX
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) November 21, 2017
Using the platforms that he has been given, LaVar Ball has promoted his son Lonzo Ball to the max. He has made outrageous claims such as saying that Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry, that Lonzo will have more of an impact than Magic Johnson, and that Lonzo would lead the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year. It’s not that some of these claims are impossible. Lonzo undoubtedly has a ton of potential, and he could still turn into the player that his dad has said he is. Saying all these things so early, however, is what rubs people off the wrong way. Along with that, it creates enormous pressure for a kid that isn’t even old enough to buy a beer yet.
Many people believe that LaVar Ball has set up his son for failure by hyping him up this much and by putting so much pressure on him. Lonzo has a calm, laid back personality, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like he has the same vision for himself that his father has. So far this year, he hasn’t been playing up to the standards that his father has set. Although his rebounding and passing have been nice, on the year, he’s been averaging only 8.9 points per game, shooting just 31.3% from the field. People have been accusing Lonzo of playing too passive and playing too scared. Some are already throwing around the “bust” label, which is an insane thing to do when he’s only played 17 games in his career. However, because of how much he has been hyped up, it’s been much easier for people to make fun of him and criticize him for his shooting woes.
Not only does Lonzo have pressure from the fans and the media, but he also faces an enormous amount of pressure from the opponents that he will face on the court this year. Countless NBA players have been critical of Lonzo and his father, and it seems like everyone wants to go at Lonzo hard when they play the Lakers. Joel Embiid, among others, has taken issue with LaVar Ball, and has stated that he wants his teammate Ben Simmons to dunk on Lonzo.
Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.. https://t.co/cMvt5RYiSQ
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2017
The trash talk isn’t confined to Twitter. During the Lakers’ first game, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had a field day insulting Lonzo as he was held to three points. Beverley played Lonzo very physical throughout the entire game, and had some choice words for him afterwards. After the game, ESPN’s Stephen A Smith expressed his concern with the pressure LaVar Ball has put on his son.
“You have put a bulls-eye on your son. Whether its Patrick Beverley tonight, or anybody else any other night, everybody wants a piece of your son because of you.”
Lonzo will have to deal with this added pressure the entire season. His father isn’t going to stop talking, and the media won’t stop covering him. He’s become too big, and the pressure is only going to continue to grow throughout his career.
Yet, has anybody ever stopped to consider that this pressure might not necessarily be a bad thing?
Facing high pressure situations builds character. Facing criticism makes people stronger. Look at some of the most successful people in the world. Many of them have faced criticism their entire lives, or have had to go through enormous amounts of pressure. Why can’t Lonzo Ball be one of those people? Colin Cowherd from The Herd definitely believes he can be.
“That guy is putting the kind of pressure on kids that will eventually transform itself as adults with moxie and metal and emotional toughness. Before you call out LaVar Ball, ask yourself, have you done well in life? You faced pressure, you got yelled at, you flunked a test, you got made fun of, some of you got picked on. That’s why you’re successful.”
Lonzo is having to deal with opponents this year who are coming for his throat every single night. He’s having to deal with the spotlight always being on him. He’s having to deal with people hating him and rooting for him to fail. These things might seem impossible to handle as a rookie in the NBA, but if Lonzo is able to handle them, it will only make him tougher and more capable of handling problems that he might face in the future.
LaVar Ball has often been portrayed as this malicious, egotistical human being who wants to ruin his child’s future and always wants to put the spotlight on himself. Although he has said many questionable things, and hasn’t been close to perfect by any means, is he really this bad father that everyone thinks he is? Isn’t he just trying to support his son as much as he possibly can? After Lonzo’s first game, LaVar had some interesting words to say about why he is as boisterous as he his.
“If I didn’t say anything, do you think they’re (other NBA players) going to come at him still? I want them motivated to the fullest. We love the competition. We don’t hide from nobody. This is what Lonzo understands. When you do good, everybody going to be with you. When you do bad, they’ll jump off the bandwagon. When you look to the side, your dad is going to be with you all the time, whether you do good or bad.”
That doesn’t sound like a father who is setting up his child for failure. That sounds like a father who is trying to mold his child into a tough, successful adult who isn’t scared of anybody. Not to mention that he’s made sure that Lonzo knows that his dad will always have his back.
Look, everyone has become a little tired of seeing LaVar and his son being talked about constantly. LaVar is brash, bold, and unapologetic. He has crossed some boundaries, and has said some extremely outrageous things. Not everyone appreciates having to see a man like that on their TV screen 24/7. But to say that LaVar has failed as a father and has set up his son for failure is simply not true.
He has the entire nation talking about his son every single day. He has the news stations covering his every move. He has kids around the world intrigued by the Big Baller Brand. He has you reading this article. How many NBA stars wish they were talked about this much? The opportunities that have opened up for Lonzo because of his father’s big mouth are endless. Yes, there is going to be an enormous amount of pressure on him during his entire career, and he is always going to be hated on by some people. Yet would he really have been better off if has father had said nothing?