A favorite narrative regarding the Los Angeles Lakers and their pursuit of top-flight free agents is concern that LaVar Ball might somehow be enough to make them think twice about signing. Kevin Durant disagrees.
In a recent appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast, Durant was asked about the original Big Baller and had this to say about what might have to do with the Lakers’ chances at landing a free agent:
“No. Tell them how much I love LaVar. You know why I love LaVar? Because he reminds me of a normal AAU dad.
“I’ve seen dads like him. I grew up watching dads like LaVar and I’m like ‘I appreciate what you bring’ because like I wish, me and my dad are so tight right now, but growing up, my dad really didn’t come to games so I wish I had a dad like that. A lot of players wish they had dads like LaVar. Just being there to support.
This part here shouldn’t be overlooked. Say what you will about LaVar’s handling of LiAngelo and LaMelo (I’d probably pass on Lithuania, but that’s just me), but he does seem to consistently have his kids’ best wishes at heart more often than not. It isn’t for us to tell him how to raise his kids.
Maybe not like going on ESPN and putting the pressure on like he did Lonzo, but it’s just like LaVar is the prototypical pops in the AAU circuit. I like him. I like his family. Every time we play the Lakers and I see him, I give him a big hug. I’m like ‘Man I like what you’re doing man. I enjoy it. I just like your personality. I like that you care about the game so much and you care about your son so much.’
That’s what I like. The Big Baller Brand, I’m not getting into that. But I just like what he does.”
Durant’s next point here rings very true as well. Sure, you had Patrick Beverly’s and John Wall’s out there making it a point to go at Lonzo, but for the most part, most guys have respected his game. Durant says it here, LeBron James pulled Ball aside after one of their two matchups this season, and plenty others have praised what he brings to the table.
Lonzo’s personality certainly seems to help him out here as well. He’s a quiet kid more interested in letting his game speak for itself. Perhaps if he was more abrasive, you’d see more of the Beverley and Wall’s antics, but that isn’t how Lonzo handles stuff.
The other point that needs to be made here is how laughable it is that a player’s dad might stop a player from making the decision they deem best for them from either a basketball or business perspective.
The Lakers are still the NBA’s flagship organization with a very bright future ahead. This idea that a loud parent would stop Paul George or any other free agent from signing there sounds good over the airwaves and will generate clicks, but falls quite short in actual practice.
Whether it’s a superstar who lifts the organization around him or a solid veteran who helps this young core do its thing, whoever plays a role in getting the Lakers back to legitimate postseason relevancy will enjoy not only the process of doing so on the court, but a quite a few off-court benefits as well.
No free agent would pass up on that because LaVar Ball made one too many appearances on First Take.