America’s most controversial sports dad is about to get a lot less media coverage.
Lavar Ball, the father of NBA guard Lonzo Ball, has been an outspoken, and some say distracting, presence ever since his son’s college career at UCLA. A big part of Ball’s public persona has been outrageous television appearances, but it appears there won’t be any more of those for a while, at least not on one network.
“There will be no LaVar Ball on any ESPN platform heading forward — at least as of now,” reporter Richard Deitsch of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday. “Asked if Ball will be used as an on-air guest, an on-the-record source for digital, or a background source for ESPN, an ESPN spokesperson said, ‘We have no plans moving forward.'”
The decision follows an incident in which Ball appeared on ESPN’s First Take, per SI, and made what was described as an “inappropriate comment” to anchor Molly Qerim. When Qerim asked if he could “switch gears” during an interview, Ball replied, “You can switch gears with me anytime.”
After it was announced last weekend that Lonzo Ball had been traded by the Lakers to the New Orleans Pelicans, as part of a package for superstar big man Anthony Davis, Lavar Ball declared that the Lakers would never win another championship as a result of the trade. Per Yahoo Sports, Ball said on that same First Take interview that he wanted all along for his son to go to New Orleans, even though he had said the exact opposite in interviews when such a trade was initially rumored back in February.
Ball, even before his son was drafted, insisted in several media interviews that Lonzo would end with the Los Angeles Lakers. That team indeed drafted him in 2017, and Lonzo spent the next two seasons at times critical of the Lakers’ coaching and management. Ball, at times, was concentrating instead on his clothing brand, Big Baller Brand, as well as different stints his two younger sons had playing in foreign countries.
Lavar Ball, per Business Insider, also found time for a feud with President Trump after the president intervened to free three UCLA basketball players, one of whom was Lavar’s son LiAngelo Ball, after they were arrested for shoplifting in China. After Ball downplayed the president’s role, Trump tweeted a response.
“I should have left them in jail!”
Even without ESPN, Lavar Ball has appeared on other networks, including Fox News. In 2017, he was under fire for another comment to a female sportscaster when, per Fox News, he told Kristine Leahy to “stay in your lane” during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s Fox Sports 1 show.