The crowd went wild, cameras were flashing, grins were ear-to-ear. Lonzo Ball had finally done it. Your 2017 MVP … of the NBA Summer League. Not taking away from his 16.3 points per game, summer league-leading 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 block per game but, it’s the summer league guys. Sit down and take a deep breath, because the real rodeo starts on October 17th and trust me, the pros can’t wait to get their hands the Big Baller Brand’s pride and joy.
The Summer League Circus
Ball became the first Los Angeles Laker ever to receive MVP honors in the summer league; a feat that deserves a celebratory round of applause. After social media attacked him for a lackluster debut game in which he tallied just 5 points on 2-15 shooting and 1-11 from 3-point range. What made matters even worse was that, he was wearing Big Baller Brand shoes in the process. Memes = created. Ball’s 13 percent shooting night from the field had “BBB” haters ranting and raving at his downfall, while Lakers fans were nervous wrecks, frantically calling BBB headquarters to request refunds on those $495 sneaks. The next game, Lonzo had his first triple double with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. This still wasn’t enough for fans: “THOSE AINT BIG BALLER STATS!” – @RandomLakerLavarHater129
Then, in Big Baller fashion, Lonzo unveiled some new footwear for game four. Nikes. The Kobe AD’s to be specific. Ball had a breakout performance that night against the 76ers. He exploded for 36 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. Ball referred to this game as his “Mamba Mentality”. This new shoe decision caught the eyes of many superstars in the league; none more ‘super’ than King James:
The post by James came off as a subtle jab at Lavar and Lonzo; alluding to the correlation of Nike athletes and performance. The big names notice and trust me, they won’t forget.
While fans across the country were wondering what shoes Lonzo would unveil next, leaning towards another Nike appearance or BBBs, the Ballers threw us another curve ball. Adidas.
Ball tallied yet another triple double (16 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists) while sporting James Harden’s signature shoe. But the Ball family didn’t stop here.
Fast forward to the Summer League quarterfinals. Ball came out in Steph Curry’s latest shoes. Yea, the same Curry Lavar said his son was better than. At this point in the sneaker carousel nobody knows what’s going on; however, a common narrative continues to rear its ugly, or bald, head. It’s just a big baller thing. Yes, that big baller thing may be confusing, but somehow it all plays into Lavar’s master plan.
When asked to explain why his son has been wearing different brand shoes each game, Lavar responded: “It’s making a statement to the brands of what they could have had with an open mind. The players are brand ambassadors. The brand is nothing without the players.” Not the most outrageous statement made by Sir Lavar. It actually kind of makes sense …
This conscious moment from Lavar was short lived and he proceeded to tell ESPN that they’re a “billion-dollar brand either way” Ah, modesty, it comes and goes.
A Final Plea
The point made in this article is that, though Lonzo’s on court success and potential should be the cause for celebration and optimism, it’s entirely washed out by the antics and distractibility off the court. The Ferrari’s Lavar bought for his sons who haven’t played a second at UCLA. The reality tv-shows in the making. The outlandish statements and ludicrous comparisons involving his son, and himself, against legends, hall of famers, all-time greats. It’s distracting. Yes, it may be entertaining, but it’s extremely distracting. Sports are competitive; night in and night out players are seeking methods to gain a competitive advantage. Lavar has stepped on so many toes. Let me say this again. Lavar has stepped on SO MANY TOES that now, any competition Lonzo faces, there’s an added, concerted effort to not only win the game, but to diminish the Ball’s name and voice. Now I’m not stating that players are willing to go as far as to physically harm Lonzo; but I’m definitely not saying they aren’t. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. There’s a very fine line between the two.
I must admit, I’ve been a fan of the Ball family for a while. I’ve seen them grow and emerge as a family that could leave their mark on the sports world for many years to come; however, I’ve seen a line crossed as well. In the words of Lil Wayne (yes, I went there) “Players play, coaches coach, and cheerleaders cheer.” That being said, Lavar, your mark can be made without the antics. Move in silence. You can do business behind closed door. You can build your “Big Baller Brand”, behind closed doors. Let your son play his game, don’t contribute any added risks. In my playing days, when we saw a player or coach from the opposing team talking reckless in the paper, that was bulletin board material. We’d cut it out the paper, paste it on the bulletin board, look at it every day before practice, and then proceed to smash you on the field until you were singing a different tune.
Lavar, don’t be that guy. Lonzo has worked extremely hard to get here, don’t take his potential and transform it into a dartboard. There’s a lot of player in the bar known as the NBA, and nothing’s better than landing a bullseye.