Coming into the 2017-18 NBA season, there were countless storylines to sink your teeth into. There was a plethora of player movement during the offseason. The draft class was loaded with talent with one name being discussed more than most:
Ball was drafted No. 2 overall this past June by the Los Angeles Lakers out of UCLA. The hometown kid got to stay at home and now is part of the Lakers rebuilding process. There was plenty of talk surrounding Ball, with comparisons to Magic Johnson (who drafted him) and Jason Kidd. There was also a good amount of hype, mostly by his father, LaVar.
LaVar Ball will tell anyone who will listen, or even don’t care to listen just how great his son is and is going to be. Everywhere you turned, there was LaVar spouting at the mouth about his son, and even his own (non)athletic ability. A lot of LaVar’s comments are wildly outlandish.
Due to his father’s constant barrage of hype, Lonzo quickly became public enemy No. 1 in the NBA. If you somehow have never heard his father speak and only went off of what Lonzo said, you wouldn’t get much. However, LaVar does plenty of talking on his son’s behalf.
Lottery picks will always have hype surrounding them, especially the number two overall pick and even more so when the Lakers are making that pick. There is even more hype surrounding Lonzo not only for his style of play, but also his father continually running his mouth.
LaVar, the patriarch of the Ball family, has said some outlandish things in regards to his son and even his own athletic abilities. He is the one who said he could beat Michael Jordan, yes the GOAT, in a game of one-on-one with one arm tied behind his back. In addition to all that is said, LaVar created the Big Baller Brand, which gave his son his own signature shoe before ever stepping foot onto an NBA court. That didn’t sit well with many players around the league, ones who have paid their dues and don’t have a shoe of their own.
So with the signature shoe along with his cheerleader of a father, Lonzo now has a giant bullseye on his back right from jump street.
There are many elite point guards in the NBA that Lonzo will do battle with throughout the season. Guys like Steph Curry [who LaVar has stated that his son is better than], John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving among others. One player who isn’t in the elite company is certainly a fine point guard in his own right and one that plays physical, in-your-face defense on a night-to-night basis. That player is Clippers point guard Patrick Beverly.
Beverly and the Clippers squared off with Lonzo and the Lakers in the first game of the season for both teams and the much-anticipated regular season debut of the Lakers rookie. Beverly welcomed the rook to the league by harassing him all night long and not letting him get comfortable. Lonzo finished the game with just three points, four assists and nine rebounds in a 108-92 loss.
After the game, Beverly, who didn’t mention Ball by name, was yelling,
“Weak ass m—– f—–, bring him out on the court with me and I will tear his ass up.” This of course got a retaliation from LaVar.
“Who is Patrick Beverly? He played all last year and nobody said nothing about him. Now we are looking at your first game. Why? Because Lonzo’s name is attached to it,” LaVar Ball said in response to Beverly’s comment.
Lonzo responded well in his next game, finishing with 29 points on 12-27 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and nine assists in a 132-130 Lakers victory over the Suns. The third game he had eight points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, but his team lost to the Pelicans 119-1112.
Insert a LaVar Ball comment, yet again. The elder Ball guaranteed victory against the Wizards saying his son doesn’t lose two in a row.
These comments got the attention of Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who said [Washington] point guard John Wall would “torture” the rookie for 48 minutes. Wall echoed these statements ensuring “no mercy.”
The Lakers came away with a 102-99 victory in overtime in a spirited effort. Lakers head coach Luke Walton challenged his team to not let anyone talk bad about one of their teammates, whether it was Ball or anyone else. The Lakers got the message and played a good game.
Wall got the better of Lonzo in the stat line finishing with 18 points and nine assists compared to Lonzo’s six points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. After the game, Wall was complimentary of Ball.
“He’s a quiet kid who doesn’t say too much. He’s been dealing with LaVar’s outlandish comments his whole life. It doesn’t bother him. It’s just new to everybody else. He can pass, can score the ball – he just wasn’t making shots tonight,” Wall said.
Players are going to be gunning for Lonzo all year long to essentially try and shut LaVar up.
There are going to be ups and downs for any player throughout the course of an 82-game season and that applied to Lonzo and the young Lakers squad. No matter how he plays, good or bad, you can be assured of one thing; his father having something to say.
While his shooting hasn’t gotten off to a good start (32% from the floor and 23% from 3), he has shown he can have an impact on the game. He is nearly averaging a triple-double of 11.5 points, nine rebounds and nine assists per game while playing 35.5 minutes per game.
Whether it is fair or not, LaVar Ball has made Lonzo Ball public enemy No. 1 in the NBA.