THE SOCIALIST’S JOURNAL: LAVAR BALL
I am going to try to say this one time but chances are this is the first of many times: LaVar Ball needs to go somewhere and sit down.
It is undeniable that he has shepherded his sons to the precipice of NBA stardom. Lonzo will be a high lottery pick next month and LiAngelo and LaMelo will probably follow suit. He gets all the credit in the world for doing his part to raise his kids. But in the words of Chris Rock – That’s what you’re supposed to do!!
After that I’m not sure why he deserves any of our attention. He has pushed his kids to specialize in a skill that just so happens to have come into vogue in basketball. That was happenstance. LaVar Ball did nothing to influence the offensive trends in basketball, he is simply trying to ride the coattails of Steph Curry the way everyone else in basketball is. In this way he is much more akin to Memphis Bleek than Jay-Z; why are we paying any attention to the knockoff?
Two generations of sports prodigies ago Richard Williams burst onto the scene as the father of a young girl who was changing the way tennis looked and was played. Williams was a mad scientist that tricked his wife into getting pregnant than brainwashed his kids into playing tennis in inner city Los Angeles. Everything he did was controversial and unprecedented. By comparison Ball has done nothing noteworthy. He is a guy (probably one of thousands) that told his kids to imitate Steph Curry.
The real reason we are saturated with LaVar Ball is the Kris Jenner effect. Although she has no real talent (outside of producing attractive kids – not really a talent) she has been a fixture in the celebrity news cycle for years. As a society we have come to expect to hear from parents of famous people. So LaVar Ball has become a spokesperson for his son Lonzo even though I am not aware of any educational background or experience he has with brand management, marketing, or business. I am not mad at him for trying to maintain control of as much of the money that Lonzo will produce. But I don’t have to play into his game and I’m surprised that so many others are. I have to admit that Ball has done a great job of inserting himself into the conversation around sports. Even if everything he says is hyperbole of no substance and I would argue that none of it should be taken seriously.
At some point 4-5 years from now the youngest son will be establishing himself as a professional athlete and, I assume, attempting to establish his own identity as an adult. And at that point LaVar Ball will be back to having no say in the sports landscape. I assume he will be much richer then. I also assume, if his current record is any indication, he will have burned every bridge offered to him.
Here’s hoping LaMelo is one-and-done.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.