LaVar Ball meddling in sons’ career could be a sign of what’s next at UCLA, NBA
LaVar Ball‘s overbearing nature isn’t just limited to television and radio airwaves, but has also translated into the very hardwood where two of his sons play — Chino Hills High School.
The Ball family’s spotlight started with a storied 2015-16 season where former UCLA standout and expected lottery pick Lonzo Ball won the Naismith National Player of the Year award alongside his coach Steve Baik, who received National Coach of the Year honors after leading CHHS to a national championship with an undefeated record.
Baik left for Fairfax after the season, leaving assistant coach Stephan Gilling as his successor and new coach of the team.
It's reunion time. New Chino Hills coach Stephan Gilling, former Chino Hills coach Steve Baik and LaVar Ball. pic.twitter.com/l4moucOfhl
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) June 29, 2016
Gilling was now in charge of senior LiAngelo Ball, and his younger brother LaMelo Ball, both UCLA commits like older brother Lonzo. The season got off to nine straight wins for the team, only to face resistance from LaVar Ball, who would often press his own tactics and opinions on not just his kids, but the entire team.
Andrew Joseph of USA TODAY Sports’ For The Win noted LaVar Ball would often tell the team to double team from his seat in the front row of the bleachers, command which the team followed, causing them to go down to Roosevelt High at halftime. Gilling urged them to stay in a man to man system, but the team resisted. After finally getting his message across, CHHS was able to pull off a 76-68 win to make it 10 in a row.
Following the game, LaVar Ball had rallied the team in the locker room and was told to get out. When he resisted, Gilling and the staff took the players into their hotel room, a place which Ball also took them out of.
“An assistant coach comes up to me and tells me that he sees LaVar rallying the team up,” Gilling said. “I guess he got them out of their rooms on the 18th floor and tells the team that it was his system that won. That we’re doing what he says. ‘I run Chino Hills! I run UCLA, about to run the NBA!’
“He pretty much downplays me at the same time. My assistant coach sees him and says to him, ‘That’s not right. Is there any middle ground?’ He says, ‘No, there’s no middle ground.’”
As Lonzo’s notoriety grew at the national level, LaVar Ball started to make constant TV and radio appearance, making disparate claims that his son is better than reigning back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry, that he would beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, among others.
In the background, LaVar Ball is every bit the armchair quarterback of Chino Hills High School and one that wants to have more control than Gilling, who holds the position.
“One of the things too that you have to be very careful about is when they not around you anymore as kids and they grow up to be men,” LaVar Ball told USA TODAY Sports last month. “Maybe they got some other alternatives in their head now… and this is basically the coach over at Chino Hills High. Now, all of the sudden, he’s 30 years old, and he’s got his own mind. He said, ‘I don’t need the Balls’ help no more. I do my own thing.’ Now, he’s having problems over there.”
CHHS went 30-3 this season, losing 87-80 to Bishop Montgomery in the CIF playoffs and providing yet another opportunity for LaVar Ball to put down Gilling.
“Man, we were supposed to go to Sacramento, but that coach is hard-headed,” Ball said. “He wanted to do things his way. If we would have gotten along, we would have been in the state title easy. But he’s trying to have a little resistance towards me. And I’m like, ‘Man, try and do it your way. That’s why you lost three games.’
“Because once he run and just play and when my son really wants to play for you, we’re gonna do good. But when you have any kind of resistance towards me, and you the head coach, it don’t work out that good. I already knew he was going to lose that game.”
Gilling will still have to deal with another one of LaVar Ball’s sons in LaMelo, who will be a junior next year, as brother LiAngelo graduates.
“He wants to shoot people down for him to look good,” Gilling said. “That’s how he is, but it doesn’t affect me.”