THE SANTA CLARA
May 11, 2017
Despite the exploits and accolades of Lonzo Ball, all the eyes of the basketball world are on him for a totally different reason, and that reason has a name—LaVar Ball.
LaVar, Lonzo’s father, has become a polarizing figure over the last couple months for his big presence in the media. Specifically, for the boisterous claims he has made not only about himself, but about his son. Most notably was his appearance on ESPN’s “First Take,” in which LaVar claimed he could beat Michael Jordan in one-on-one, to which host Stephen A. Smith frantically declared, “Something is wrong with you!” In that same show, LaVar did not shy away when talking about his son, Lonzo. He said that Lonzo was better than Stephen Curry and that he would have an effect on the Lakers similar to Magic Johnson’s.
LaVar Ball’s media presence took an even bigger leap as he recently announced the release of the ZO2 Basketball shoe by the Ball’s family brand, Big Baller Brand. The shoe is currently running for $495. You could buy a pair of LeBron’s and Jordan’s and still have money to spend. But then again, neither LeBron nor MJ lost in the Sweet 16.
When talking about the shoe, LaVar made the claim that those who cannot afford the $495 shoes are “not Big Ballers,” and this brought upon him a completely new wave of criticism. The problem with such arrogance is that it creates unadded pressure on Lonzo, who has so much potential to fulfill.
Many basketball experts are talking about how good he is as a player; Lonzo is especially praised for his ability to make those around him better by playing a very unselfish style of basketball. According to many, he’s one of the best floor generals to enter the draft in the last couple of decades.
But because of his dad’s crazy antics and unfiltered speech, Lonzo is already starting to lose out on big opportunities even before he has set foot on an NBA court. Earlier this year, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all announced they would not be offering Lonzo Ball an endorsement deal; their reason being LaVar’s outrageous demands. LaVar wanted any brand to establish a partnership that included Lonzo, as well as his two younger sons, LaMelo and LiAngelo. In addition, he wanted that brand to license his family’s brand, the Big Baller Brand. These demands proved too much for a player who has yet to play a minute in the NBA.
Of course, it is absolutely normal for a father to motivate his son and want the best out of him. But it’s concerning to spew unproven statements. When you proceed to talk about how your son is better than Steph Curry, the two time reigning MVP, and equate him to Magic Johnson, widely regarded as the the best point guard ever, it creates unnecessary pressure and preliminary expectation.
And if Lonzo does not live up to the hype LaVar has created, he will be the one who will feel the effects much more than his father. His dad will get laughed at, but Lonzo will likely see his career end early or framed as a disappointment.
Eduardo Ruano is a first-year computer science and engineering major.