LaVar Ball criticizing the way Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff is using Lonzo Ball is nothing new. The most outspoken father in NBA history has done so multiple times this season, at least whenever he isn’t too busy feuding with United States President Donald Trump, Byron Scott or Joel Embiid.
Each time Ball does so, however, it becomes more noticeable simply because he isn’t stopping. It would be one thing if he took shots in the heat of the moment, but each time LaVar calls out Walton it seems more jarring because it makes it clear this is a narrative the parent of arguably the Lakers’ most important player wants to trumpet.
LaVar’s latest comments came during an appearance on Tai Lopez’s YouTube channel, and they focused on Lonzo’s playing time in the fourth quarter:
“The Lakers are losing right now. They suck right now. It’s a very fixable problem. Here’s the thing, the fix is let my boy play. He’s a special player, he’s always been a winner. You’re a loser now if you keep getting all these losses. But he can’t win a game if he’s just sitting on the bench and they bring him in with five or six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Talking about, ‘Save us.’ If you look at how many games hey’ve played already this year, look at how many games Lonzo has started the fourth quarter and ended the fourth quarter.”
In addition to criticizing Walton for his handling of Lonzo, LaVar also claimed to be capable of coaching the Lakers to a better record:
“Here’s what everybody is saying: The kids are young. OK, I want the young kids. You give me a bunch of young pros, and my record would be better than this on the fact that I’m 50-something years old and I know the game. But if you got a guy who’s 38, maybe he’s not experienced enough. Maybe stop talking about the players are so young, and maybe it’s the coaching experience that’s young. Yeah, nobody wants to say that but I say it because I’m 50 years old and I know the game. You give me those guys and I guarantee you they’ll be in a much better position than this, because you’re not playing the guys or you’re not getting the best out of a lot of people.”
With LaVar mentioning losses, it’s unclear when the video was recorded. The upload date is Dec. 9, the same night the Lakers notched a second consecutive road win.
They did so with Lonzo again not playing in the fourth quarter, though as Walton noted, other starters also sat as the bench unit that generated momentum was allowed to close the game out.
While Lonzo, Walton and the Lakers have so far played this stuff off as if it’s no big deal, or like they aren’t paying attention to it (when they do deign to even respond), eventually one would think that it has to become a problem for the team that the father of such a critical player is not only calling out the head coach, but other players as well.
There is not really a good solution, either. The Lakers can ban reporters from speaking to LaVar at games, but there is only so much they can do. They certainly can’t stop him from calling reporters, going on TV or even stooping to an appearance on some YouTube channel.
Maybe this really is no big deal in the locker room. Maybe Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Walton are fine, seeing LaVar as the outspoken helicopter dad he is and are able to laugh off his words.
If they aren’t, however, or if other players see this — notably prospective free agents — and feel as though they don’t want to deal with it on the Lakers, then the team has a problem.
We’ll see how and if they have to deal with that.
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