The Los Angeles Lakers have exceeded expectations this season, a feat made arguably more impressive by the fact that they’ve had to do so amid an intermittent stream of drama-creating criticism directed towards Luke Walton by LaVar Ball.
Lonzo Ball’s father hasn’t been shy about voicing his discontent with the Lakers’ head coach, even after president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka asked him to tone things down. Mere weeks after that meeting, LaVar created another media firestorm when he claimed that Walton had lost the locker room.
The Lakers appeared to prove LaVar wrong when they promptly ripped off 12 wins in their next 16 games, but according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the organization still wasn’t happy about the extra drama LaVar was creating for his son and his teammates:
According to team sources, the Lakers were angry and disappointed with LaVar Ball over those comments. They felt as though no other franchise would be as accommodating and supportive as they had been, only to be rewarded with a constant disrespect and drama. Or, as one official put it, “He reaches out with one hand and slaps us with the other.”
That constant disrespect and drama might have been something Johnson was trying to avoid fueling when he decided that the team wouldn’t be responding to LaVar’s public criticism, a decision likely also made in part because it could be seen as legitimizing them in a way that ignoring them would not.
But while the back-and-forth between LaVar and the Lakers might seem untenable, it will really only become so when players start to have an issue with Lonzo because of it, or don’t want to join the Lakers in free agency because of the drama.
Neither of those things has happened yet, so while people will continue to work themselves into a tizzy about LaVar’s latest comments, for now, they don’t seem to be having a tangible effect on the Lakers.
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