To most people, LaVar Ball is living vicariously through his three talented sons – Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo. He’s a loud-mouthed dad on the sidelines who puts all the other hardo parents we’ve all seen at Little League, CYO and Pop Warner games to shame. He’s a clown, or a media whore.
I disagree. I think he’s a genius.
I didn’t really formulate this opinion overnight. When he burst into headlines, I wasn’t a fan. In fact, I still don’t really like him. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing.
Is saying that Lonzo is already better than reigning two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry
who is already vastly overrated but is neither here nor there a little far? Maybe.
But since he said this on February 20th, Steph hasn’t exactly played as great as he normally has. Sure, he’ll get his numbers. But his shooting percentages are down, as he shot below 30 percent from three-point land five times in ten games since those comments. Lonzo, meanwhile, has continued to back his play up.
But just today, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley challenged LaVar to a 1-on-1 game on national television. It doesn’t matter LaVar averaged 2 points per game in college. It doesn’t matter one bit because someone who has actually accomplished something in pro basketball is willing to take him on. Simply because the man called someone else out! That’s free advertising! (By the way, this is how I picture LaVar playing in his current physical condition. Maybe that’s just me.)
He notoriously proclaimed that he’ll start his negotiations for a shoe deal for his kids at $1 billion. Is that a ridiculously high number? Maybe.
But, that’s classic negotiating, right? Start higher than what you actually want? Plus, between the notoriety of his three sons AND his own line, the Big Baller Brand, you don’t think someone like, say, Under Armour wouldn’t bite? Under Armour has shown that they’re interested in signing the best athletes possible regardless of what the public may think. Keep in mind too that UA seriously lags behind Nike and Adidas in terms of a basketball brand. I could totally see LaVar selling the rights to his brand to Under Armour and cashing out on a massive pay day for himself. He wouldn’t get there if people didn’t know who he is.
There’s no doubting his sons are extremely talented, and they’re en route to becoming one of the biggest, most well-known basketball families in a long time. Lonzo is tearing it up this year for the UCLA Bruins (they’re losing to Arizona in the championship in my bracket, but that’s a different story). LiAngelo is a three-star, high-ceiling prospect that will join Steve Alford’s squad next year. LaMelo is the highest-touted of the brothers, after he
didn’t play defense and cherry-picked his way as he scored over 90 points in a high school game this season. I’m not the biggest basketball guy – that’s Sean, Mikey and Will’s department. But I’ll bet my family’s house (again) that each of them are picked before the end first round, if not lottery picks.
Say what you will about LaVar. But he knows how to grab headlines. He knows how to market himself and his sons, while still taking enough attention away from his sons to simply let them focus on playing basketball. He has goals in mind and is taking action to get to those goals. And he doesn’t back down from his words; instead, he backs them up. Like I said, I don’t like the man. I just think he’s effective, and I don’t think he’s crazy.
Cover photo from Bleacher Report
GIF from Husker Hoops Central