Who is LaVar Ball?
That question has been at the center of the Los Angeles Lakers universe since the moment it became clear the team would select his son, Lonzo Ball, with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
LaVar and Lonzo’s appearance in the fourth episode of season two of “The 5th Quarter” won’t answer that query, but it will show fans a side of LaVar they haven’t seen before.
“I think they get to see some of their favorite characters from the Lakers universe in a new light,” Michael D. Ratner, showrunner on “The 5th Quarter” told Lakers Nation. “The idea for their characters was to be very self-reflective and show a side of them that I think fans haven’t exactly seen.”
The episode, titled “Fetus Jones,” features Marlon Wayans playing a character who is essentially an exaggerated version of LaVar, an already at-times cartoonish showman taken to his natural extreme.
This construct allows LaVar to poke fun at himself, critiquing the actions of his fictional counterpart during “interviews” as part of the mockumetary format of “The 5th Quarter.”
According to Ratner, who pitched LaVar on the idea while they were working on a separate show with Kevin Hart in July, getting to laugh at his own public persona was part of what drew LaVar to the appearance.
“Listen, I think he believes a lot of the stuff he’s saying, and he’s willed a lot of this stuff into reality,” Ratner said. “He speaks his mind, for better or worse, and I don’t think he’s confused as to who he is or about whether people are going to love him or hate him. As far as being in on the joke in some ways, yeah I do (think he is).
“The Lakers world right now does want to put together ‘does he mean everything he’s saying? Is he just trying to get press?’ He knows exactly what he’s doing and he’s a showman. He’s like a WWE character in many ways, but he’s a businessman as well. It’s a good combination.”
As Lonzo sits side-by-side with LaVar while the latter sips tea and chastises Wayans’ character for overmarketing and overexposing his seven-year-old son, the Lakers rookie is able to showcase his signature dry wit, including a closing monologue in which he lists all the things a father like that is going to miss out on seeing his son do.
“You’ve got to play to everybody’s strengths. Athletes, they’re not actors and they’re not traditionally trained, so you want them to play sort of like a superimposed version of themselves,” Ratner said.
“Lonzo’s humor is more dry so we sort of catered to that. And the dichotomy of Lonzo and LaVar’s personalities and having them side-by-side there, you have LaVar go really big and Lonzo sort of play the voice of the audience.”
Fans can get a look at both Lonzo and LaVar’s acting chops with “Fetus Jones” premiering on Dec. 7 on Verizon Media’s go90, and while they may not get certainty over who LaVar Ball is, Ratner does promise Lakers fans who tune in will get something new.
”You’ve definitely never seen LaVar Ball speak this way or act this way before,” Ratner said.