LaVar Ball is no stranger to controversy, and in this latest bit of news coming from USA Today that some sources – including Jalen Rose for ESPN – have been floating the theory that it was the Ball family patriarch that leaked the information that Lonzo Ball was suffering from a torn meniscus in order to prevent his son’s trade away from the Lakers.
Currently positioned in a very competitive place to win the NBA finals if they have a good season, bolstered by the fact that King James himself has joined the roster, adding hype and talent both to a team which had been facing a dearth of both in recent years. According to the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Lakers have had an ideological shift in thinking after the reigns were handed off to Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka that seeks to cast off the shadow of the past decade – a 10-year span in which the Lakers have missed the playoffs five times. Utilizing a large amount of headroom left in the salary cap and attracting top-tier elite players to the luxurious location with a legacy of victory, it seems only natural that one of the most controversial players not actually in the game – LaVar Ball – would want his son to stay on board for the ride.
For his part, LaVar Ball has flatly denied any involvement with leaking Lonzo Ball’s injury to the press, as well as not taking any responsibility for a social media feud that kicked up between his son and teammate Kyle Kuzma.
“I don’t leak nothing. I always say what’s on my mind, so you don’t never see me saying, ‘I think I should say this now and let it leak.’ I don’t do that,” LaVar told TMZ.
Often goodnatured, and difficult to discern as real or fake, the beef between the two spanned everything from rap diss tracks to Twitter posts. The strategy behind all of this negative press, Jalen Rose posits during a live broadcast segment, is to tank Lonzo Ball’s trade value and keep him under the Lakers umbrella and safely away from potential trades.
“This is obvious. Think about it – the kid grew up in California. All he ever wanted to do is be a Los Angeles Laker. His father wished it into existence… His father said he was going to be the greatest point guard of all time, and guess what Magic Johnson said? ‘I want your number hanging in the rafters. He doesn’t want to leave there. You think it was an accident when he dropped the diss record on his own teammate during the heightened time of free agency when they’re trying to woo LeBron James?”
Mike Greenberg, his co-host, questions Rose further on the matter: “What you’re saying is that Lonzo Ball has spent the last month or thereabouts purposely diminishing his own trade value?”
“That’s smart. He doesn’t want to leave L.A. If you don’t want to leave L.A., do all of the things that don’t make people think you’re an attractive commodity to bring to their team. Do the San Antonio Spurs want Lonzo Ball? There are some people that felt like… because of [LaVar Ball] and what distraction he may be, we don’t want [Lonzo]. That ain’t 100 percent of the people. Now you put the injury thing out there. Now you put the diss record out there. Now that suppresses the market for people that actually want to bring you to their squad.”
Lonzo Ball’s rookie year was a mixture of high and low notes according to the Sporting News, with praise being offered up for his size and court presence in addition to having strong assists and potential assists on offense. The downside of his first-year performance was felt most strongly in the categories of overall points performance, three-point shots, and overall consistency.
Nonetheless, it looks like Lonzo is set to track his second year alongside Lebron James, who may have a say in helping the very young player develop into a true superstar in his own right.