Opinion: It’s Ball Good

Some hate them, some adore them, but all should appreciate the dissimilarity the Ball family has brought to the sports-world table.

I don’t recall ever there being another athlete, let alone family, who has generated such a media buzz, especially considering they haven’t entirely proven themselves.

The eldest brother, Lonzo, has had somewhat of a contradictory start to his NBA career with the Lakers. Lonzo’s been jumping back and forth between bust and baller. Sometimes he’s shut-out, sometimes he looks like who fans expected to see coming out of UCLA.

Ball was particularly impressive in the Lakers’ loss to Milwaukee Saturday, as he surpassed LeBron James as the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.

Personally, I love the way Lonzo plays, and I’ve felt this way since he first received media attention when destroying ankles at Chino Hills High School. His shot is different, just like his overall approach to the game.

Many think the Ball family is egocentric, but watching Lonzo on the court proves just the opposite. He’s always looking to pass first, and he may be the first player I’ve witnessed who has integrated the full-court pass into his daily strategy.

Watching the Kardashian-esque reality television show featuring the Balls, “Ball in the Family,” it’s evident the family, especially father LaVar, have been misrepresented by the opinions of critics and the judgments of basketball fans.

Yes, LaVar can be a loudmouth, but he’s just a coach-dad who wants what can benefit his family the most. He’s always training his kids, trying to provide them with skills on the court and manners off of it. Whenever LaMelo, his 16-year-old son, for example, mouths off or says something questionable under his breath, you better believe LaVar will sit him down and proceed in giving him a stern talking-to.

He just wants his family to profit, and this is made evident by the lavish shoe deals he created for LaMelo and Lonzo. Some complain about the price tag, which is over $400 per pair, but that doesn’t coerce purchases. Wealthy people have been buying them, along with other apparel on the Big Baller Brand website, which is modestly priced compared to other athletic apparel.

You can’t fault LaVar’s entrepreneurial approach to his company, which he literally built by himself from the ground up. In interacting with friends and family, LaVar is personable and somewhat generous with his money. In a touching video released in September, for example, LaVar bought his property manager of 15 years a brand new truck on a whim, just a day after his car had gone out of commission.

The Ball mother, Tina, suffered a stroke last February, and LaVar has taken it upon himself to nurse her back to health. He’s doing his duty as best he can, often pictured encouraging Tina to get back to full physical health, as he says she wants. Tina was a college basketball player at University of California, Los Angeles , and LaVar takes a delicate approach in helping her to regain her athleticism.

Whether the Ball brothers flop in basketball or not is yet to be seen, but the two younger brothers are likely to appear in professional basketball alongside Lonzo.

LaVar recently pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills because of coaching discrepancies and was judged heavily by the media for doing so. But perhaps LaVar has a strategy in mind, as LaMelo is breaking the mold of the NCAA, which we all know as a questionable organization, by profiting off of his play before college. LaMelo could still play in college by simply walking-on at UCLA, where of course he’d be happily received considering he’s already committed.

I’d love to see more college athletes profiting, and LaMelo’s path has called the NCAA’s no-pay policy into question.

I, like others, appreciate an extra factor of entertainment in a sports world which seems so controlled by the ideals of out-of-date owners. The Ball family has broken the mold by creating stars prior to college and infiltrating the “big-three” athletic apparel companies with something new in Big Baller Brand.

Whether Lonzo is a bust or not is yet to be seen, but the family has already proven a moderate amount of success through media exposure and Big Baller Brand. You can fault them for their over-publicized lives, but it seems as though that’s what they want. LaVar doesn’t care about the opinions of others, and, whether bust or breakout, the Ball brothers are thankful for their loud-mouthed father’s successful attempts in setting-up fruitful lives.

Colton Clark can be reached arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @coltonclark95


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