Tuesday night marks the NBA Draft Lottery, where certain ping pong balls will determine the future of several franchises and superstar prospects. It’s problematic and puzzling to come to grips with the event’s order not being the most unpredictable element about this year’s class.
Strange, yes. But why? Well, at a time during which Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double, James Harden put up equally memorable stats and the Golden State Warriors won 67 games, one of the most talked-about topics during the past season has been LaVar Ball — yes, the father of UCLA standout point guard Lonzo Ball.
LaVar’s appeared on nearly every sports show imaginable hyping up his son as the next great NBA superstar. And we’re sure to hear his name even more in the coming weeks. And months. And probably years.
While LaVar’s antics have increased Lonzo’s profile and made him the most famous player entering the 2017 NBA draft, they’ve also hurt his reputation and future earnings.
We already know LaVar cost his son a major shoe deal. A few weeks ago, LaVar and Lonzo met with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, and allegedly asked for one billion (yes, with a B) dollars to acquire Big Baller Brand, the shoe company that will eventually represent all three of LaVar’s basketball-playing sons.
All the major shoe companies laughed in his face, and now the Ball family is stuck trying to sell Lonzo’s ridiculously overpriced basketball shoes on their own. LaVar’s greedy valuation cost Lonzo the ability to sell his first endorsed shoe with a company with both the distribution and reputation to make it a financial success. If the Big Baller Brand doesn’t succeed, then eventually Lonzo and LaVar will need to go back to Nike or Adidas or another major shoe company with their tail between their legs.
Another question is how LaVar’s antics will hurt Lonzo’s relationship with whichever franchise picks him in the upcoming NBA draft, set to take place June 22. We might have a good clue which team that’ll be as of tonight, since Lonzo is predicted to land on the No. 2 or 3 overall spots.
Some experts claim that LaVar’s constant media appearances are convincing teams not to take Lonzo early. It’s pretty ridiculous to think a team is going to pass on a possibly great NBA player because his dad talks too much — and executives from both the Suns and the Lakers, the second- and third-worst teams in the league last season, said they would not take LaVar into consideration when evaluating his son. But that doesn’t mean LaVar’s mouth won’t cause trouble in the NBA.
LaVar Ball loves Los Angeles. He raised his kids in Chino Hills, Calif. and he’s convinced his other sons to play basketball at UCLA too. LaVar has also made it abundantly clear that he wants his son to be drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s compared him to Magic Johnson and said he thinks he can help take the team back to its former glory. ESPN even ran a feature story about LaVar’s love of Los Angeles. The insanity hasn’t stopped there.
So how would LaVar react if his son is drafted by a team not named the Lakers? Will he take a backseat and let the Suns or whoever else develop him into a great player? Or would he constantly criticize the franchise for every little thing and drive a chasm between Lonzo and the organization? LaVar’s big mouth might not hurt Lonzo’s draft position, but it could affect his son’s relationship with whatever NBA team ends up taking him this summer.
The best thing Lonzo could do is to begin distancing himself from his father, at least professionally. Otherwise, he will spend all next season apologizing to his teammates for any outburst that comes about. And based on his past behavior, you can expect that a lot.
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