When the Los Angeles Lakers were awarded the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, it became almost immediately clear that they would draft UCLA star Lonzo Ball. The point guard’s talent and the allure of an LA kid playing for his hometown team were too much to pass up.
But even as the decision became obvious, the discussion swayed from Ball’s ability on the court to his father’s antics off it. LaVar Ball had begun his conquest to rule the world as the mad genius behind the Big Baller Brand, speaking his son’s destination into existence.
The Lakers spoke openly in the pre-draft process about whether the elder Ball’s practices could dissuade them from selecting Lonzo, even spending an entire day at the family’s Chino Hills home to learn more about LaVar and the rest of the Ball clan. In the end, the Lakers made it known that LaVar would not be an issue.
Fast forward six months. Lonzo is predictably struggling in his rookie season and his shooting has been a legitimate cause for concern even in the most nuanced of takes. LaVar, meanwhile, has predictably placed blame on his son’s teammates and, more commonly, his head coach.
On Tuesday, as the Lakers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the New York Knicks after some questionable decisions by Walton down the stretch, it was reported by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and the LA Times’ Tania Ganguli that the Lakers had previously held a meeting with LaVar to discuss his public criticisms of the organization and its head coach.
Following via Shelburne’s piece on ESPN:
The Los Angeles Lakers’ front office recently had a meeting with LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, asking him to tone down some of his public criticisms of head coach Luke Walton and help create a more positive atmosphere around his son, sources told ESPN.
The meeting, which took place within the past few weeks, was called by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. […]
A Lakers insider said the main message to Ball was that they’ve tried to keep their relationship positive, while still allowing him to speak his mind, and they’d prefer he did the same.
Ball said he agreed with that characterization, for the most part, and that he told Johnson and Pelinka he understood their position and would try to abide by that request.
LaVar Ball later confirmed that the meeting took place.
“It was the best thing, man. Everybody’s going to try to make it an ego thing, like I’m trying to tell them what to do or they’re trying to tell me to tone it down. It’s not about that. It’s about coming together and to get a solution to this problem.
“It may sound crazy to other people, but I really just want the best for Lonzo, and the best for Lonzo is going to be what’s best for the organization. Because if everybody winning, we good.”
The Lakers have given LaVar plenty of freedom in speaking his mind and this may not change that substantially. The team recently began enforcing a previously created rule to limit where players’ families and media members can congregate after home games in an effort to reduce interviews.