| February 23, 2018

Column: From Fickle Foe to Father Figure

August 1, 2017

If you’re a fan of the NBA, you’ve probably been exposed to a seemingly endless barrage of headlines surrounding the infamous LaVar Ball.

The former Washington State basketball player has a notorious reputation for creating shockwaves throughout the NBA community with his brash and unfiltered comments on topics ranging from his son’s $495 sneakers to women in sports journalism.

LaVar Ball has already compiled an extensive list of public enemies based on his negative interactions with members of the media, including a sexist tirade against Kristine Leahy during an interview on “The Herd.”

There’s really no way to defend the unfavorable antics of LaVar Ball, especially with the negative press it brings upon the NBA and sports journalism.

But no matter your stance concerning the brash and outspoken celebrity, there is one thing critics and fans should be willing to agree on — LaVar Ball has fostered a strong and supportive relationship with his sons.

This might not seem evident at first, especially with LaVar’s tendency to hog the spotlight from his son Lonzo Ball, the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and a budding superstar with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Although this setup supplies the opposition with nearly unending supply of ammunition, it also helps to shield his son from some of the media scrutiny that often accompanies high draft picks who are attempting to adjust to their professional careers. This media diversion could provide Lonzo Ball with an opportunity to play with a little less pressure on the hardwood this winter while finding his place in the NBA.

Another indicator of LaVar Ball’s dedication as a father is his presence at his son’s NBA Summer League games. Even after a shaky professional debut that included 2-for-15 shooting and five points, the outspoken celebrity offered praise and encouragement for Lonzo Ball, saying “he can’t go but up” from the performance.

The support LaVar Ball offers his children is a bond that a lot of athletes don’t get to experience in their own lives. As a former collegiate baseball player, I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched as my teammates looked up into the stands, hoping to find a parent or family member who ended up being a no-show.

There’s nothing wrong when it comes to criticizing LaVar Ball’s approach with the media, but it’s much harder to find fault with the way he supports his children. From instilling confidence with a never-say-die attitude to establishing his Big Baller Brand company around his sons, LaVar Ball continues to serve as a good father figure off the court and away from the cameras.

Josh Grissom is a former Argonaut alumnus who now works as the sports editor of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. He can be reached through email at jgrissom@dnews.com or on Twitter @JoshuaGNews.

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