Saturday, September 22

Wang’s Word: LaVar Ball shouldn’t be criticized for being proud of his son


Freshman guard Lonzo Ball is predicted to go within the first three picks in many mock NBA drafts, but his father's recent comments comparing him to reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry have drawn criticism. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Freshman guard Lonzo Ball is predicted to go within the first three picks in many mock NBA drafts, but his father's recent comments comparing him to reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry have drawn criticism. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)


Few people have personalities that outsize a 6-foot-6-inch, 300-plus pound frame.

LaVar Ball is one of them.

Call him a loudmouth or a nuisance, but he’s still the root of freshman guard Lonzo Ball’s success.

Yes, the man who claimed that Lonzo will be better in the NBA than two-time defending MVP Stephen Curry is the reason why the UCLA freshman will be a top-three pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

[Related: Family, dedication at the heart of freshman guard Lonzo Ball’s game]

LaVar Ball has coached Lonzo and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, since they were kids, and the brothers’ high-octane play at UCLA and Chino Hills High School has provided an outlet for their father to take over the spotlight with his bravado.

But amid all the hoopla and media attention surrounding the Ball family, no one should be shaming LaVar Ball for feeling proud of his sons’ abilities to play basketball.

While there’s no doubt that some of LaVar’s antics are aimed at earning free publicity for Big Baller Brand apparel, he understands that in order to be the best, you have to defeat other legends.

No one will fault Lonzo Ball if he believes he’s better than Curry or Kyrie Irving because Ball wants to be known as the best point guard in NBA history. Therefore, there shouldn’t be a double standard when those words come out of LaVar’s mouth rather than Lonzo’s.

Another reason for people to lay off LaVar is that his confidence and swagger has already rubbed off on his sons – we see it in Lonzo’s passing creativity and boldness to shoot 30-foot 3-pointers whenever he feels like it. What he says is nothing new to the brothers because above everything else, LaVar has already instilled the desire to win and be great in all three of them.

[Related: Wang’s Word: Lonzo Ball is the best candidate for the Naismith Trophy]

Moreover, LaVar Ball’s opinions are strictly supportive of his sons. He doesn’t bash other college basketball players or coaches, and he doesn’t mince words when he says his sons want to play in the NBA for the challenge. Believing in your kids and supporting their goals is all you can ask for in a parent.

A similar scenario played out several years ago in college football. DeSean Jackson, now a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, was a highly-touted five-star recruit out of high school and earned multiple-time All-American honors at California. Like Lonzo Ball, Jackson also had a father who made outrageous claims about his son’s talents.

Both fathers knew their sons were skilled and trained them to believe that they were the best. And when you believe that you’re the best and have the ability to back that up, you don’t feel pressure.

Just ask LeBron James.

Ultimately, what LaVar says is no different from what outspoken parents of the NBA players like Mary Babers-Green – Draymond Green’s mother – say. Their words are white noise with no bearing on the actual game of basketball.

So everyone can take back their LaVar Ball criticisms because when it comes down to game time, you best believe that the only thing Lonzo cares about is getting the win.

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