It hurts to say this but the NBA must freeze Lonzo Ball out of the NBA Draft. Yes, that includes his hometown Los Angeles Lakers as well. While Ball is a hot commodity in NBA circles, his father LaVar Ball is not. There is speculation that Lonzo could go anywhere from the first pick all the way down to the 8th to the New York Knicks.
It’s time the NBA and its teams take a stance.
When Allen Iverson was drafted in 1998 by the Philadelphia 76ers he entered the league with a ton of baggage. He was involved in a Bowling Alley brawl that landed him in jail and then there were the people he hung around. Larry Brown called them his “Posse” but to Iverson, it was much deeper than that. Those “Posse” members were the ones making sure Iverson’s mother still had food on the table and lights on in the house while Iverson was away. These were the guys he grew up with in Newport News, Virginia. However, people outside that circle didn’t understand what the term “family” meant, but Iverson did.
But the oldest Ball, he’s different.
We get a father being there for his son and all but what LaVar is doing is destroying his son’s career in the NBA even before it gets started. Lonzo, once drafted will be under a microscope only seen by the likes of LeBron James and Iverson. The hype surrounding him will not be focused on his on-court skills but what happens off.
LaVar is making enemies in the NBA, advertising companies and in the media and for what? To make a name for himself or his son? At first, it seemed that he was just loud to be loud but as he continued, you can see that his soul purpose is to piss people off. But here’s the problem with that. He’s not the one being drafted and paid millions of dollars to play a game. This is his son’s time to shine and LaVar is taking that away from him. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care what people think about him but what happens when your son has to walk into a locker room with his new teammates and they give him the cold shoulder?
What happens the moment Lonzo struggles, the team goes on a 5-game losing steak or a member of the media says something media-like towards his son? Then what? As an owner or GM do you really want those type of problems following your team game after game? Then to add more fire to the stove, LaVar is pissing off the players that his son will either be teamed up with or against.
When Lonzo takes the court he will be greeted with the “Toni Kukoc Experience”. Remember when the Chicago Bulls kept talking of bringing in this young Croatian kid over to the States to play with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen right before the Barcelona Olympics? That game, Jordan, and Scottie took it upon themselves to play the greatest defensive game ever. They took turns shutting down their future teammate, just to prove a point to Jerry Krause and the Bulls brass. Kukoc did nothing wrong to his future teammates– he was just living in the moment. This is what Lonzo will face his rookie season and possibly beyond.
The stance the NBA should take against Lonzo sadly has nothing to do with him as a person or player. The league, if they have their eyes open should be able to foresee what lies ahead if no one steps in. It’s like if you see a parent beating a kid in public– do you say something or walk away? LaVar Ball needs to relax and let his son make his decisions. It will come to a point were Lonzo will have to tell his dad to back off and that must be done before the NBA Draft.
LaVar has already gone on record saying that Lonzo will only work out for the Lakers. But what happens if the Lakers don’t select him with the No.2 pick? Will he tell his son not to play and sit out the season?
What team is willing to put up with LaVar’s nonsense? How should team’s view Lonzo? A kid that’s about to become a millionaire just standing there quiet, letting it happen may be a warning sign to all 30 teams. If Lonzo cannot control him now, what are GM’s to think will happen 3 months from now when things get tough for the younger Ball. What happens if LaVar goes off on one of his son’s teammates or ownership?
This is a business. Teams are drafting players they hope can help them win now or in the future. Magic Johnson is a smart man and he will explore all avenues before making a sound decision. This is the same approach that every GM must take. The young kid has talent, however, his first step into manhood has to be him telling his father to take a step back.
LaVar is a father who loves his family but he seems to love the spotlight just the same. If the NBA wants to send a message to him and other parents like him then shutting Lonzo out of the Draft will be heard worldwide. Take a stance NBA and force Lonzo and LaVar to humble themselves by making them experience life overseas first. Make LaVar appreciate what a privilege it is to have a son play in the NBA but also let him know that is it just that– a privilege, not a guarantee.
So far, he has done and said all the wrongs things and no one has responded. Shutting his family out will send a clear message that his behavior will not be tolerated. It’s a crazy situation for Lonzo but he has no one to blame but his father. It’s still time to get this under control but the longer he stays quiet, the worse it will get.