By DERON SNYDER
Sons shouldn’t pay for the sins of their fathers. On or off the court.
If your dad is loud, obnoxious and overbearing, any resentment he generates shouldn’t fall on you. People should accept who YOU are as a person and govern themselves accordingly, not treat you based on their feelings toward your old man.
In fact, they should cut a little slack, especially when you’re the exact opposite: quiet, humble and polite. If the parent really gets on their nerves, they should be thankful you’re different and maybe even show some compassion.
That’s why I’m a bit confused by the narrative about LaVar Ball making life difficult for his son Lonzo Ball.
It was spouted prior to the NBA draft in June, when the Los Angeles Lakers selected Ball with the No. 2 overall pick. We heard the theory throughout summer-league play and training camp. And the drumbeat intensified after Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley gave Ball an extremely rude welcome in the season opener.
“I just had to set the tone,” Beverly told reporters after harassing Ball from beginning to end, baseline to baseline, in the rookie’s debut last week. Ball finished with three points, four assists and two turnovers in the loss. Beverley delivered another message before they left Staples Center: “I told him after the game, due to all the riffraff his dad brings, he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him.”
LaVar Ball’s “riffraff” is irksome to many folks. His constant, carnival-like barking grates on nerves and sensibilities. He boasts about Lonzo, his other sons and their Big Baller Brand as easily as he draws breath and every time a microphone is close (which appear to be one and the same).
I suppose opponents are fired up to face Lonzo Ball because they don’t want to hear his father’s mouth afterward. But there’s no silencing LaVar Ball, no matter how hard you try. Beverley, a prolific trash talker himself, should’ve known that shutting down the progeny wouldn’t make the progenitor shut up.
“Yeah, you shut him down,” LaVar Ball told ESPN after the Clippers game. And your check still ain’t going to go no higher than what it is. … Who is Patrick Beverley? He played all last year and nobody said nothing about him. Now we are looking at your first game because Lonzo’s name is attached to it.
“One game. OK,” he continued. “You still don’t have your own shoe, and you are still not your own boss.”
The popular refrain is that Lonzo Ball wears a target on his back, courtesy of his dad. As a result, opponents will go out of their way to make life miserable for the Lakers point guard, placing him under extra pressure that’s unusual and unnecessary. NBA analyst Charles Barkley told TMZ that LaVar Ball “couldn’t play dead, and now he’s got everyone not liking his son. So his son’s going to have to deal with that.”
Maybe human nature and the heat of competition will lead players to go after Ball harder than they would otherwise. They know the spotlight is brighter and the buzz is louder when Ball is in the building. He wasn’t the No. 1 overall pick, but he’s arguably the most-hyped rookie since LeBron James, unquestionably if based on a highlight reel of LaVar Ball crowing.
But none of that should make anyone dislike Lonzo Ball. Nothing about him is offensive (except the form on his jumper).
LaVar Ball was at it again prior to Washington’s visit, yapping that the Wizards “better beware.” Center Marcin Gortat responded with a tweet that point guard John Wall would “torture” Lonzo Ball.
Critics assert that being LaVar’s son is torture enough.
The player simply shrugs, repeatedly saying that the scrutiny is normal for him, a way of life since he picked up a basketball. He loves his dad and accepts him for who he is, poking deadpan fun in a great Foot Locker commercial for Father’s Day. Do yourself a favor and Google it.
One of the worst reasons to not like somebody is because of their family – as if anyone has a choice in that matter.
Personally, I like Lonzo Ball, the way he carries himself and stays composed. I also respect his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, if not his approach, because the concept of ownership is important and it’s rarely emphasized by people who look like him.
But it’s clear to me that their father-son bond is deeper than basketball and marketing, a fact easily overlooked by critics but not by Wizard coach Scott Brooks.
“My father left me at two,” Brooks told The Washington Post. “I would love to have my father around like [LaVar] is around and talk to him and pump me up with confidence. To me, that’s every son’s dream … Maybe he could temper it a little bit, but I would’ve loved to have my father do that.”
Look, I get why so many people can’t stand LaVar. He can be tough to stomach.
But no one – players included – should take it out on Lonzo. It’s not his fault.
— Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.