Greetings, earthlings: Crazy NBA dad-to-be LaVar Ball has invaded your televisions, computers and brains, and he is never going away.
The father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball and future UCLA stars LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, LaVar has injected himself directly into the veins of the basketball universe. He might be a viral marketing genius, he might be completely crazy, or he might be neither. Regardless, the saga of the Ball family is now one that demands attention—for better or worse.
Who is Lavar Ball?
LaVar Ball and his wife, Tina, are the parents of three basketball-playing children. UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is fully expected to declare for the NBA draft and be a top pick this year. Lonzo and brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo played together last season at Chino Hills High School in California. LiAngelo, currently a high school senior, will enroll at UCLA next year to play for Steve Alford. LaMelo is a sophomore (who moved up a grade to play with both his brothers last season) and is committed to the Bruins as well.
LaVar is a native of South Los Angeles and played college basketball at West Los Angeles College before transferring to Washington State for the 1987-88 season. As a strong 6'6" forward...he averaged 2.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game, in 36 games. As a starter.
Ball then transferred to DII Cal State-Los Angeles, where he met his future wife Tina, a 6'0" player on the women’s team. And as he likes to tell it, fathering three basketball-playing boys became his master plan.
How good are his kids?
Lonzo will play in the NBA next season and has a chance to be one of the league’s top passers, although there are some questions about his ability to score the ball and create his own shot due to a funky release on his jump shot. LiAngelo is more of a power forward in a shooting guard’s body, so his pro future is unclear. LaMelo is so young that it’s tough to call, but he’s extremely talented and will likely finish as an elite recruit in his high school class.
There arestories about how Ball installed the style of play he wanted at Chino Hills to accommodate the talents of his kids and the way he had trained them growing up, feuding with coaches and running off other high school players who weren’t willing to get with it. Chino Hills has played a bizarre style of basketball with the Ball brothers on board, involving cherry-picking baskets and full court passes to play at a breakneck pace uncomfortable for most high school opponents, and a brand of ball that doesn’t fully translate to the NBA court. That’s how LaMelo scored 92 points in a game this season, and how LiAngelo scored 72.
Why do people care about LaVar?
This guy has said so many egregious things in the public forum this season that it’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s joking. In an era of click-driven internet and viral content, his brash personality and statements have caught on and made him a surprise star of sorts. (Example: "He better than Steph Curry.") He’s been on ESPN multiple times and aggregated by dozens of websites (including this one). And yes, he appears to think he could beat Michael Jordan.
Did he really say he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime?
“I would just back [Jordan] in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left. He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim.”
Could LaVar Ball beat Michael Jordan one-on-one?